Project Recovery Solutions

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Every project has its unique challenges. These become amplified in the context of complex environments or when projects deteriorate to the point they should either be stopped or require recovery.

Projects fail regularly — missing expectations, drastically overrunning budgets, significantly missing their deadlines, and too often having to be abandoned entirely.

Research shows us that this is the rule, not the exception.

The issues for projects requiring recovery may be very different. They may have commenced with a solid business case and deteriorated to the point where the original objective seems unachievable. They may have been doomed from the start. Company direction may have changed which has affected the business case for the project.

Troubled projects display characteristics similar to complex environments. Once they are off track, they are difficult to get back on track, even if there is a business desire to do so.

Lack of processes, approved project plans and other necessary documentation are indicators of a troubled project and can involve a complex environment. Where possible, adapt, adopt and apply existing processes and information for effective project outcomes.

Project Failure Facts

Let’s look at the facts relative to all projects. These facts give enterprises an overall impression of the risk involved with projects. Since a large percent involve application products or external services, we will then investigate the reasons for failure for these projects and the impact on the companies involved.

The Standish Group ( has been doing surveys on all types of projects since 1994. Their research, published under the title CHAOS, reveals some facts that are astonishing.

For the year 2008, The Standish Group shows a staggering 44% of IT projects surveyed were ‘late, over budget, or implemented with less features and functionality’ and 24% of projects were canceled before completion or worse yet, completed and never used.

For successful projects, the proportion of projects that are completed on time and on budget is only 16.2%. Projects completed by the largest American companies have only about 42% of the originally proposed features and functionality.

A total of 78.4% of their software projects will get deployed with only 74.2% of their original features and functionality.

For purposes of the study, The Standish Group classified IT projects into three resolution types:

Succeeded: The project is completed on time and on budget with all features and functions as initially specified.
Challenged: The project is completed and operational but over-budget, over the time estimate, and offers fewer features and functions than originally specified.
Impaired: The project is canceled at some point during the development cycle.

To summarize, the Standish Group’s 2001 research shows that being over budget is common. Delivering projects late is normal. Delivering less functionality than was originally planned is nothing special. In short, project failure seems to be by default, the standard operating procedure.

Failure Causes

This research tells us that the number one reason for obstacles to success is that senior executives fail to lead.

Although the number one reported cause of failure is senior executives failing to lead, we expect that this is rarely explicitly stated. The result is that the blame falls to issues two through seven, where the blame is clearly placed outside of the organization on the software vendor or service provider.

Cost overruns gain the most attention from senior management and are normally given as the reason for terminating a project; however, these overruns are usually a result of other project deficiencies that did not get the proper senior management attention at the appropriate time.

Success Criteria

The success of a project will be determined by the business stakeholders.

Your success will be determined by your ability to gauge the situation, plan for success, and lead the team to achieve it.

BCC Holdings has the wisdom, experience and skill set to advise on recovery actions required to bring the project back on track and achieving success.

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