Project Rescue Services
Arc offers a project rescue service for when IT projects have begun to stall, when deadlines are being missed or perhaps where an IT supplier is not meeting their commitments. And frankly, when an IT project is in or nearing failure.
This is one of the hardest services to buy as the temptation is to go for 'one more heave' when your developers make a promise that one more push is all it needs (again, usually) and it can appear to be questioning the management of an IT project. Even worse is that nobody wants to contemplate writing off spent budget (sunk cost fallacy) so it really is common to wait and wait.
Now it may even be the case that the supplier is being criticised unfairly or that there are very good reasons for a project to be in trouble, so an independent outside reviewer can actually provide impartial assurance that a plan is sound, and can conduct root-cause analysis with an outside perspective.
Project rescue is a service that Arc ensures comes with a tough hard-talking approach. No misunderstandings will occur and proposals for solutions and a roadmap out of the current situation can be provided, so you will not get a vague consultants report. It can be an uncomfortable experience, but Arc has noticed that this uncompromising and sometimes harsh approach brings relief.
Run a health Check Even If Your Project Spidey-Senses Are Tingling ( i.e it is Not in Trouble)
Even if you are not at the stage where project rescue is required, one thing Arc really recommends is undertaking a project health check from an independent outsider if you start to sense that your IT project is at risk. People usually know well in advance that things are not right, but there is an almost irresistible human trait to wait for it to turn around.
Remember clarity of thought, management time, budget and supplier goodwill is far higher before a project is really obviously in serious trouble so use that to correct course. Once a team is in fire-fighting mode quick decisions start being made that are in effect creating future problems and your suppliers have to start mitigating commercial risk so focus fades rapidly.
The very act of having to walk an independent assessor through a project often enables people to see problems and/or to have licence to share them, and more often that not many of the solutions are in the room.
No-one Ever Avoids the Sunk-Cost Fallacy
Every project we have seen that has been in trouble has really had at it's heart a problem with sunk-cost chasing whether than is something as plain as being tied to spent budget or more complex reasons like the need to meet a deadline or the sheer effort that went into the project's early stages and that most dangerous of things; momentum.
Remember the longer you delay seeking a remedy the more your sunk cost actually grows and that typically means less resources for a solution, and it can mean a very painful inquest with a board. In just about every example Arc has seen people probably know about this concept even if they do not know the name and yet they cannot see that it is actually the situation that their project is in i.e it surely only happens to other organisations and not mine!
Understand Your Organisational Culture - You Need to for a Solution
Organisational culture is something that few articles from project management gurus ever mention and yet it will be one of the largest contributors to causing the chasing of sunk-costs and probably the largest blocker to solving the problem. This in of itself is a huge topic so we'll be brief and just give an example of a large bank that was spending £1m a month on an IT project that was 19 months in and the project was a failure; well they knew it was going wrong in the first few months and spent over a year on a series of restarts and 'one more heave' plans thus burning through £12m within the zone of knowing it was failing, and worse even when management started taking soundings for help they continued to burn through £1m a month. Well a large reason for forcing a continuation was because calling a halt would have triggered a board examination because budget being written off was going to need an explanation - so better for all concerned to keep going and have another restart wasn't it?
Arc mentions culture because in this example it was the cause of a problem growing and growing of course (and the budget ballooning every upwards), but also any solutions that would have been proposed would be subject to that same culture. You have to understand the organisation's culture to be able to propose solutions that would firstly actually be accepted by it, but more than that those solutions have to be ones that that organisation's culture can actually work with.
So IT Project Rescue Means Writing-Off Budget and Work?
No, it really does not mean that. Well certainly not as a default reaction.
There is a newer culture emerging in some organisations where ruthlessness is now de-rigour i.e cancel a failing project immediately. It's like a reaction to too many sunk-cost projects except now it is the other extreme being used.
Arc recommends doing a review to actually see if there is a solution and what can be salvaged rather than reaching for this style by default. And it is worth reviewing the 'why' and 'how' or you'll find yourself cancelling another IT project.
Contact Arc if you would like a harsh no-nonsense exchange of views on your IT project.