How do I recover a project?

How do you handle the management of a project sponsor who has just offered a very complex technical system to his client? A combined system with two foreign suppliers, in a politically sensitive environment with many players. This requires a heavyweight as project manager. That project manager was Tony and he presented this case to me, asking me what sort of recommendation I would give for this.

“This project is one of the most complex I have ever seen,” is what Tony said. “It was international, it included enormous political and commercial stakes and after all it was a lot of money. The technical solution was a real highlight, never seen before. In order to implement it, a logistical component of unprecedented proportion was there to add to the project’s complexity.”

My main responsibility, said Tony, was regaining the client’s confidence in the project after my predecessor had left them in the dark. The supplier had now found out they weren’t able to put a man in place and so they went out for one and found CUPE. At that moment in our conversation, Tony said something important. He said that after the contract was closed, nobody had looked into its details further. So he started his assignment as an external project manager in project management Babylon. All stakeholders had their own opinion of what they thought they agreed, but nobody really knew any more what actually had been agreed to. The first phase of the project had seen unexpected outcomes and it certainly hadn’t met its targets. Much was promised, very little was delivered.

I asked him how he had created the now successful project. “I have set up a coherent set of procedures and then got everybody to respect them. ALL stakeholders started speaking the same language, used the same project principles and knew what was expected of them. I just addressed responsibilities time and time again. And of course it was my knowledge of literally thousands of contract pages.”

Tony’s project fits with the way CUPE executes project interim work. Being a specialist in project and programme management, one of the ways to answer clients’ needs is to provide project recovery. Because of our knowledge and experience we can optimally provide customized support, consisting amongst other things of professionalization of a project environment or the enriching of project competencies of project co-workers.

 “So,” said Tony after telling me his story, “how would you now recommend what I have done for this client?” After I weighed my words I said: “You have regained the respect of the client. And you have shown more than just ordinary commitment to the supplier organization, you were part of their DNA. And now it’s time to look for something with even more challenge.”