How to Overcome a Troubled Project
Mobile Technology

How to Overcome a Troubled Project

By Mainak Biswas June 11, 2013 - 1,049 views

What is Project Management?

Well, before we start talking about troubled projects, let’s focus on what is project management.

As per Wikipedia, “Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals. A project is a temporary endeavor with a defined beginning and end (usually time-constrained, and often constrained by funding or deliverable), undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives, typically to bring about beneficial change or added value”.

Now, that is a complex definition. To simplify the definition, Project Management is all about planning, organizing, communicating, identifying risks and motivating resources. But most importantly to get the work done on correct time and delivered to the right stakeholder.

Why a project lands up in a trouble zone?

To get the answer of this question, we will need to understand the difference between project and production. Instead of going to a bookish definition, let’s keep it short and simple. Project is achieving a common goal with a set of common services. For example, it can be an IT project or civil project like building a bridge. While any tangible item, which is produced or manufactured in a time-tested environment with a predefined output using some specialized services can be defined as a Production. For example, a factory manufacturing soaps.

So, for project, the output is unique in nature and while for production based output is common.

Thus, due to temporary and unique nature of project (until it’s quite diligently monitored), there is high chance of getting the same in a trouble zone.

Does a troubled project have its own life cycle?

There is no difference between a normal project and a troubled project’s life cycle. Something went wrong in the life cycle of a typical project which has introduced the word ‘Troubled Project’ or ‘Project on Fire’ (commonly used in IT world).

For a waterfall based project, a typical life cycle will be:

  • Setup or Initiation
  • Planning & Design
  • Development or Construction
  • Testing or Review
  • Deployment
  • Maintenance

In all of the above stages, a normal project can easily be turned into a ‘troubled’ project. Well, no one wants to be a part of trouble projects. Read on to learn more about troubled projects compared to smooth sailing ones….

Well, I did screw my project. How do I come out of it?

Don’t worry! It even happens with the best in the lot and is normal. Let us focus on how to get the project back on track and make it a smooth sailing one. We don’t need to do something heroic or completely out of the box. Basic project management skills will help you get your project out of trouble. Few quick referencing tips & tricks:

  • As a Project Manager, you need to understand the complete scope of a project. A single line missed in RFP or project scope document can be disastrous.
  • Identify the potential skill of the delivery team of such projects. If require, set up a skill training. Always remember you are in an industry where you need to learn everyday and upgrade yourself.  
  • Communicate with customer regularly and bring back his/her confidence on the team. Always remember when you are dealing with an outsourced project customer, agree to work on commitment virtually agreed on and any troubled project means failure of commitment. You might react more badly if the same happens to you.
  • Update risk register on the project learning (so it can be used for future project reference).
  • Make sure all the key stakeholders along with senior management are informed about daily project progress. This will help you ensure that all tasks performed by you are cross-reviewed at this critical stage.
  • It has been observed that any project with ‘Fire’ really de-motivate the team. Well, let’s control all our emotions and motivate the team and bring back their confidence. Always remember team work is the pillar for any project success.
  • Do a Root Cause Analysis (RCA – Fish Bone Analysis) and share the finding with the key project stakeholder.

To all budding project managers, please make sure that the project triangle is always controlled.


Always remember if you are running away from a problem, then you are moving far from its solution. Let’s face it and get it resolved. You will love the satisfaction of success.

Do It Your Self (DIYS)

Just to figure out how good you are in managing your projects, try out this tool: Be honest to yourself and check your score.

On a lighter note

If anyone follows this popular graffiti about project management available on online world, that individual will definitely land his/her project into the classification of ‘troubled project’:


This Article is part of the employee experience sharing & content contribution initiative for Indus Net Technologies’ Blog site

Content Credit : Souvik Chaki, Delivery Manager-Mobile Application, Indus Net Technologies

About the Author :  A techno-manager with total of 11+ years in Software Development & Implementations in IT sector, including 7 years of relevant experience in Delivery, Project Management and Pre-sales activities.
He can be reached at

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