Step 3: Restart

Budget and Schedule

Successful projects have solid, approved budgets and schedules. A salvaged project invariably starts out over budget and over schedule, so both must be reworked and approved before you get going. Because of the added stresses on a restarted project, be cautious rather than aggressive when planning the new budget and schedule. While it's always a good idea to underpromise for any CRM project, it's particularly important not to make claims that cannot be met in a salvaged project. Almost all the successful salvaged projects I have worked with ended up being considerably over schedule (months late) and over budget (50% of more). The organizations chose to salvage them because it was faster and cheaper than starting over. Compare the costs of a salvaged project to the cost of starting over. Since restarted projects are expensive, proceed in small, incremental steps to reduce risk and show success faster than with a more ambitious project.

The Process

The process for a salvaged project is very much the same as a regular project, so you can use as your guide. However, after a major problem extra care is required to ensure that the project is on track and stays on track. The project manager must perform particularly careful, frequent, and detailed status checks. And the status checks require more skill in a salvaged project than in a regular project since team members are more cautious and may display many self-protective behaviors. It's essential that the project manager be able to encourage the team members to be open with bad news as well as with good news. It's also a good idea for the executive sponsor to be more involved in the project, for instance by holding periodic formal reviews in addition to the informal daily checks. Keep the project team engaged and committed to the project. The team members, whether new or not, are likely to approach the project with caution and to hold back a bit. Judicious amounts of optimism and rallying the troops are recommended. Also pay particular attention to the morale of the end-users. After an unsuccessful attempt, people tend to harbor suspicion and distrust, so open, candid, and frequent communications are particularly important. Brief the business owners and the super-users regularly and do not shield them from bad news, even for non-critical problems, since they may interpret any unshared news as yet another failure lurking about. A frank approach is more important than an optimistic approach in a salvaged project. Get the executive sponsor to use and reinforce a candid communication style. There's no reason why a salvaged project cannot be successful, as long as it has strong executive sponsorship and as long as the root causes for the original failure are understood and dealt with, however difficult, delicate, resource-intensive, or unpleasant that might be. Salvaged projects particularly benefit from a small-step approach, strong project leadership, and clear communication. In the long run, salvaged projects can be as successful as ones that did not go through a failure phase.