Turn-Around failing projects with “7 EASE”

Senior managements around the world are always in search for the right and an experienced project manager that will turn failing projects around into a successful completion.

Every project has its own specific scope and time to start and finish which makes it unique in its journey, yet many projects fails due to lack of understanding project scope, project requirements and clients expectations. Statistically 60% to 90% of projects fail to complete due to surrounding business environment that affect projects internally or externally. The repetition of difficult issues in a given project over and over again create dispute between engineers, suppliers, contractors and project sponsors.

Large corporates, SME and organizations in general seek to improve their workforce performance, capabilities, productivities and resource deployment in order to reduce and eliminate any causes of project failure.

Project sponsors and owners need to have strategic decisions based on factual approach that they can stop a project before it starts, through careful project study and project team evaluation. Nothing is worse than starting a project with 5% suspicious in mind that project has a chance of failure.
A contractor was awarded a project that turns to be at risk of possible “failure”, due to an inaccurate time estimates of the project that was created by an international designer that had zero knowledge of the country culture and background which led to hostility between the designer, contractor and project sponsors with the possibility of going to court.

The project had to be pushed several months forward in order to recover from the project setback and challenges. It was observed that one of the core challenges is the designer lack of understanding country’s culture of how it operates and engage its businesses. The fast track infrastructure project was reconditioned and reengineered to suits the actual on the ground general condition of the project.

The sponsor had to work with the new changes of putting forward new project extension date for completion that will reflect project processes and resources delay such as the manpower and project plan, new cost estimate and corrective action plan. To ensure proper recovery, the project designer needed to increase the effort of understanding customer’s culture, requirements and expectation as well as build stronger relationship with project stakeholders.

The designers comprehended the lessons and decided to treat the situation with proper root -cause analysis approach and maintain clients understanding and satisfaction as well as build effective communication with the project manager, project team and stakeholders.

In respect to challenges that project team have gone through, management advised the project manager and his team to stick to four area of project safe guard of “7 EASE” that stand for paying attention to;

  • Essential of the Project,
  • Avoid number of issues in the project,
  • Spot any sign of project failure
  • Expand & Act

Essentials of Project:

  1. Identifying project barriers
  2. Identify risk and assess the impact
  3. Create alternative solutions and options
  4. Get approvals on the alternative solutions and options
  5. Act on the options even if the project required to make hard decisions
  6. Be alert to Quality of work, Safety conditions, environmental violation, project phase’s delivery, up to-date project budget, planning and cost control, internal and external report, stakeholder communication, sponsors feedback at all time, monthly evaluation and effective team work and regular meeting.
  7. Ensure project diplomacy

Never the less project team also decided to work around their project challenges by avoiding major areas of instability.

Avoiding in a project

  • Poor planning
  • Unclear communication
  • Misunderstanding
  • Project crushing and three shifts work if possible
  • Noncompliance
  • Exposing to risk of any kind
  • Individual decision

Newly hired project manager also decided to work with project team leaders on spotting all they can from noncompliance activities to client’s dissatisfaction during project execution and commit to quality delivery.

Spotting any sign of project failure “Be Alert”

  1. The validity and approval of project plan proposed
  2. Continual delay during project execution
  3. Weakness on quick responds to corrective action
  4. Continuous disagreement between the designer, contractor and the owner/sponsor
  5. Lack of leadership and team work practices with continuous internal disagreement
  6. Continuous clients demands and changing requirements
  7. Fear of facing clients every time there is a delay or major non-conformity

The project manager demanded the project team to ensure deep understanding of the project specification and plan prior to any major activities within the project to avoid any noncompliance and focus on the commitment to local and international standards.

Expand & Act on project conformation & improvement

  1. Understand and comprehend project plan and specification
  2. Commit to local country construction specification
  3. Ensure proper internal effective project audit and inspection regularly
  4. Ensure proper review to conducted audit and effective management recovery to findings
  5. Ensure the deployment of risk management within the project with a backup plan in mind
  6. Encourage for project improvement and creativity of work and reward for it
  7. Ensure the staff and employee qualification and experience meet the project objectives

Project diverted to the right direction not only by deploying the 7 EASE but also by sharing the philosophy of win: win approach with the clients and project sponsors. Addressing all stakeholders with the updated plan regularly which eventually provided confidence to the project manager and owner towards Project safe completion and delivery.

Eng. Rawhey Eldabagh,
Sr. Consultant