Is your project at risk of derailing?

WARNING: 70% of all projects fail

An illustration of a steam train by Ad Esse Consulting

There’s nothing more frustrating than investing your time, effort and budget into a project that never reaches completion. Keep reading for how to spot the warning signs that your project is in danger of derailing, and how to get back on track.

Spot the warning signs

There are many obstacles that can threaten to derail your project, but if you identify them early you can overcome them and achieve your project goals.  Our infographic below outlines a few common problems to watch out for. 

Problems that could derail your project infographic by Ad Esse Consulting

Avoid derailment: Set yourself up for success

This advice might be a bit ‘after the horse has bolted’, so apologies for that, but we often find that projects are derailed because some essential activities were missed when the project was set up. Ensure your project set up includes the following: 

1. Get a realistic understanding of capacity to deliver your project. 

We propose that you map your project timeline against all other projects and significant business as usual activities happening in the relevant business areas. This will give you a good idea of what capacity to deliver the project will be like, where the pinch points are and therefore how realistic your timeline is. 

2. Don’t skip the scoping.

All projects need scoping which as a minimum needs to include what is included and excluded from the project, what the drivers and objectives are, what benefits you hope to achieve, your success measures, and any key milestones / timeframes that need to be met. 

3. Clarify project lead and accountabilities.

Projects often outline roles and responsibilities but forget to agree accountabilities, and sometimes who the overall project lead is. RACI tables are great ways to document this. 

4. Make the project visible.

Don’t hide information away, or make it hard to access. Make sure all your project information is visible, including a progress summary, key updates, and project activity completed / planned, project risks and success measures. 

5. Create a communications plan.

Make sure this communications plan includes all your key stakeholders. Focus on what the purpose of the communication is and what you need from your stakeholders rather than just pushing out the same messages.  

How to get back on track

1. Identify and capture any lessons learned and organisational knowledge about the derailed project.

Do this task with the project team and stakeholders. Did communications, training sessions, or system / process roll-outs have an impact on the project? Does your project implementation team still have the capabilities required to deliver the project successfully?

2. Conduct a thorough investigation into the viability of the project, considering any lessons learned.

Do the projected benefits align with the project’s purpose and can these benefits be realised? Review any benefit measures. What effect has implementation had so far? Are the right measures being captured?

3. Investigate whether the outstanding tasks / actions are achievable with your existing capabilities and resources.

Are these still the right steps to take to deliver the key objectives successfully?

4. Build a team of senior project advocates who will champion the need to deliver the benefits to your organisation.

They can provide a route for escalation where expectations are not being met, and give you access to additional capacity if required.

Whether you’re starting a new project or restoring an old one, Ad Esse can support you by ensuring your project meets your objectives, desired outcomes, and is delivered on time. To make this happen, email or use our Contact page.

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