A project derails: 7 symptoms and tips to prevent damage.

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What do you do if your project derails? You can compare a project to a train; you need a track, switches to allow the train to change course and (intermediate) stations where you want the train to arrive safely. Preferably, of course, according to the railroad timetable you have drawn up in advance.

But anything can happen along the way; the track isn’t as neat as you expected, there are delays caused by the familiar leaves on the rails in autumn, and adjustments in speeds or routes are needed. Fortunately, the derailment of a train is no longer common; unfortunately, the derailment of a project still happens on a regular basis. When should the signals be red for a Project Manager? Intervention before a project derails is crucial. After a derailment, it is often too late and the damage is enormous.

Symptoms that show that a project is derailed

Some symptoms you can recognize that your project is derailing:

  • Milestones are repeatedly missed;
  • The customer is increasingly dissatisfied with what is being delivered;
  • Conflicts arise within the project;
  • Escalation paths no longer seem to work;
  • Important team members leave the project;
  • It is often not clear what the reason for the occurrence of the symptoms is;
  • A negative mindset has arisen inside and/or outside the project.

When you recognize one or more of these symptoms in a project, it is crucial to intervene quickly to prevent the project from actually derailing and the damage from getting even worse.

There are many methods for dealing with projects that have derailed, but in my opinion symptom detection and adequate intervention are much more important to prevent derailments.

Slower driving (or even pulling the emergency brake) is often the only justified option. The damage will first have to be investigated and then repaired. Repair actions must be planned before the train can resume its journey. Track renewal, extra staff on the train, switching points and changing routes once, disconnecting the wagon, good communication on the platforms. These are all actions that are regularly taken in the train world to prevent worse.

The MOJEO Project Assessment

Investigating the damage within a project can be done by MOJEO by means of a project assessment. By having an independent company with project management specialists look at a project, an unbiased view is created. MOJEO can subsequently also support in organizing the recovery actions, of course in close cooperation with all stakeholders within the organization. With one common mission: Getting the project on track and keeping it there!

Want to get your project back on track? Download our checklist of tips here ! Or read more about project management from MOJEO here.

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