Three ways to deal with a project that goes off the rails

It’s been a while since I worked on a project that went completely off the rails. There have been a few minor disasters. These are not necessarily the end of the earth, but a problem that can be solved. Perhaps this is something I have learned from experience.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a major problem or a minor issue. It doesn’t matter if the project feels under control or if it is believed by stakeholders to be under control. It doesn’t matter how big the problem is, you must act quickly to fix it.
Aaron Irizarry, Director UX at Nasdaq Product design, spoke at the Digital PM Summit about recovering projects. He didn’t use the term project recovery, but it was interesting because many of the presentations covered topics in project management that we all recognize, but without the jargon.
These are the three ways he has set out to help you reel in a troubled project.
This article:
1. Collaborate with your stakeholders
2. Collaborate with your team
3. Be patient with the process
Do something!
Next steps

1. Collaborate with your stakeholders
Aaron stated that “people are the only thing that can derail your project.” If your project is going sideways, your stakeholders – customers, clients, sponsor – need to work with you to fix it.
He continued, “Focussing on other people rather than the solution to the problem at the hand only leads to additional conflict” Also, stop blaming customers or users and get on with the business of solving the problem.
Avoid unnecessary conflict. Trust me, there is enough conflict on a struggling job without you adding more. Consider what you can do to make the project move forward.
Transparency is key when things go south. Keep it front and centre if you haven’t lost it.
Accept responsibility for areas where your team might have fallen short. Accept it: “We made the wrong judgment and it didn’t work.” This will give you credibility during a crisis. It’s not about finger-pointing, but collaboration. It’s good manners to accept responsibility for your mistakes.
2. Collaborate with your team
You’ll likely spend a lot of time building relationships with stakeholders in a consultancy or agency environment. You will learn how they work.
You will find out what communication style works best for them, and you’ll adapt it to suit their needs. You will be able to have “small talk” with them if you remember their names.
If you’re doing this with customers, why not do the same for your team members?
It is important to understand the work of your team members and who they are. Do you?
It is easier for your team to see you doing your best in difficult times if you have built relationships.
Aaron stated, “It’s more than managing our teams in difficult project situations. If we want to be successful and help our team succeed, we must lead.”
3. Be patient with the process
You need to spend your time resolving problems in a project. Your processes should support that. It won’t be possible to plan a process for dealing in the middle with an issue.
Have you developed a process for troubleshooting? Or how to manage project issues. Have you created a communications plan that you can use to communicate clearly in a crisis?
Aaron stated that tools should be used according to the moment as long as they can be agreed upon by the team. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tool, a process, or another type of project technique. This will allow you to work together to troubleshoot.
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