Recovering a Struggling Project

Case Study

  • Industry — Government
  • Expertise — Project Management
  • Timeline — 5 weeks
  • Value Delivered — $1 million

A Government agency came to us with a project that was running three months overdue, missing key deadlines and tracking over budget. To make matters worse, their Project Manager had just given his notice and left within 24 hours. The project - and the customer - were in trouble, and asked if there was anything we could do to help. With more than $1 million of future funding dependent on this project’s success, we called on the expertise of our entire Project Lab team to uncover the real blockers and ultimately deliver a successful outcome for the customer.

Take a Breath and Assess

Day one, our key Project Manager called an immediate stop to all project activity. While our customer felt uneasy about this (given the amount of work to be done) it was the most critical step in the project recovery process. Facilitating two discovery workshops - the first with the project team and the second with the steering committee – we created a checkpoint report to capture the current state of all deliverables, and reviewed key project objectives and documentation. Three issues became apparent:

  • The project team and stakeholders lacked a common understanding of the project’s current status;
  • Despite clear evidence of highly skilled individuals on the project, the team as a whole was underperforming, and
  • Project priorities were misdirected, objectives weren’t focused, and deliverables were behind schedule

Ramp up Communication

We set a new baseline for the project schedule and budget, clearly documented what issues and risks the project was now facing, and developed next-step actions to deal with and mitigate them.

Taking three days to complete, the customer (and our delivery team) now had an accurate understanding of project health, and were empowered with the information needed to approve the continuation of the project. From this decision point came clear direction with a razor sharp focus on achievable outcomes with measurable success metrics for the customer. Due to the ever-tightening timelines on this project, daily communications were implemented to ensure that management and team members remained well informed of project state. We brought in one of our Analysts to migrate the individuals on the team into roles better matched to their skills, and individual performance targets (with stretch goals) tied with daily progress reporting. We saw the benefit almost immediately as team members' motivation and speed of delivery increased.

Reinvigorate and Deliver

Fast-forward five weeks and the project was delivered successfully, achieving our customer’s key milestone date triggering future funding in excess of $1 million. As well as a software and business process implementation, the reinvigorated project team was able to deliver training to over 200 front-line staff, and installed supporting hardware on 160 desks across the State. A perfect example of the power behind taking a breath, assessing the current project landscape and bringing in expert Project Management to reinvigorate a team to deliver.


  1. Taking the time to review

    While not always the most popular option, taking a dedicated amount of time to formally review the current state of your project can bring to light and solve a number of problems that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. 

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When Time is Tight