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Guide for Getting Projects Back on Track (Part I: the Handover)

Guide for Getting Projects Back on Track (Part I: the Handover). My last assignments have been related to get back on track projects that have been running for several months and they were totally off track from all perspectives. I am going to write a series of posts related to my experience in these assignments, in order to build a guide of recommendations I suggest for getting the projects back on track. 

First thing to do when you are assigned to a project that has been running for a while already, even for those ones that are not off-track, is to meet the current PM of that project in order to do a formal handover of the activities. 

In that handover meeting I follow a template that is composed of the following sections:

– Project details: In this point of the agenda of the meeting I try to get basic project data like:

  • Project name,
  • Customer,
  • Sponsor,
  • Steering group,
  • and so on…

– Checklist: The next point in the agenda has as main goal to get detailed information from the following areas:

  • Scope,
  • Time,
  • Cost,
  • Quality,
  • Human Resources,
  • Communication,
  • Risks,
  • Procurement,
  • Customer.

– Additional Comments: As some relevant information of the project may not be covered in the points above, I include in the agenda of the meeting an slot for the PM and for myself to deliver and request additional information.

– Action Points: As during this meeting it may be not possible for the current PM to provide all needed information for the handover, is important to take action points and establish near time deadlines, in order to have all the needed information for managing the project as soon as possible.

Once you have had this meeting, you can have already a good view of why the project is offtrack. Most of the times is because the baseline of the project has not been defined or has not been monitored. You will realize in this meeting if this is the main reason, as you may not get from the PM most of the information you are requesting, or because you see that the documentation that is delivering to you is outdated. 

What is next after this meeting??: It will depend on the outcome of it. From my experience, for projects that are offtrack you will not get from the PM most of the information requested in this meeting, and then you will have to create a new baseline starting from the planning phase, while you in parallel try to overcome the most urgent isssues that have already been escalated by the customer.