How do you find out if a project is going to derail and how do you prevent the damage?

A project can be compared to a train; you need a track, switches to change the train’s course and (intermediate) stations where you want the train to arrive safely. Preferably, of course, according to the timetable that you have drawn up in advance.

Symptoms that show that a project derails

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.

A number of symptoms that show whether a 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 been derailed, but in my opinion symptom detection and adequate intervention are much more important in order to prevent derailment.
Slower driving (or even applying the emergency brake) is often the only justified option. The damage will first have to be investigated and then repaired. Repairs must be planned before the train can resume its journey. Renewing a piece of track, employing extra staff on the train, changing switches and changing routes once only, disconnecting the wagon and ensuring good communication on the platforms. These are all actions that are regularly turned off in the train world to prevent worse.

The project assessment of MOJEO

The investigation of 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 uncoloured vision is created. Mojeo can also support in organizing the repair actions, of course we do this in close cooperation with all stakeholders within the organization. With one common mission: to put the project on track and keep it there!

More about project management