Rescuing Troubled Projects

Course Length:           2 Days             (14 PDUs)

Course Description
This seminar is designed as a graduate-level course for experienced project managers.  It is designed to reinforce many of the project management “Best Practices” taught in other project management classes.  It focuses specifically on how to recognize that a project is in “trouble”, and concentrates on the actions that project managers need to take to assess, and ultimately plan to recover or terminate a project that has experienced significant difficulties.  Tools and templates will be presented and put into context through various exercises and scenarios and case studies.

Target Student:                    Students enrolling in this course should be PMPs®, Program Managers,                                                            Senior Project Managers and or have significant project management                                                                  experience.

Prerequisites:                       To ensure your success, we recommend you have significant working                                                                  knowledge or experience in working in a project environment.

Delivery Method:                Instructor-led, group-paced, classroom-delivery learning model with                                                                  structured minds-on and hands-on activities.

Homework Assignment:  Each participant will be required to read a white paper and provide a                                                                   5-minute report summarizing the key points made in the report, along                                                               with any recommended best practices contained in the report.

Benefits:                                   Students will learn how to use project management techniques to plan,                                                               organize, control, document, and close out their projects successfully                                                                 and with minimum risk.

Performance-Based Objectives

  • Develop working definitions of project success, failure and trouble.
  • Discuss how and why projects get in trouble.
  • List and discuss the root causes of project failure.
  • Discuss techniques for performing project reviews.
  • Determine the type of project review required
  • Develop the Intervention Plan for fixing a troubled project.
  • Discuss techniques and strategies for recovering a troubled project.
  • Discuss techniques and strategies for terminating a troubled project.
  • Discuss project closure activities

Course Content
Day One


  1. Introduction
    Session Overview
    Class Norms
    Resource Table – Homework
    Key Questions


  1. Project Success and Failure
     Exercise – Define Success and Failure
    Successful Outcomes
    Failed Project Objectives
    What About Casualties?
    Zones of Success/Failure
    Project Outcomes
    Exercise – Identifying Trouble Indicators
    Labels for Projects in trouble
    Runaway Projects
    Crunch Mode
    Death March
    Project Disasters
    Troubled Project
    Exercise – Root Causes of Troubled Projects    
    Questions – Root Causes
    Acceptable ranges for Variance
    Range of Problem Projects
    Team Exercise – develop a working definition of a “Troubled Project”


  1. Project Reviews – Diagnosing Project Problems
    Project Status Meetings
    When do you want to find out about problems?
    Project Audits or Delivery Review
    Objectives of Audit
    Project Delivery Report
    Planning for the Project Audit
    Exercise – Review an Assessment Report
    Project Health Check
    Project Health Check Template
    Troubleshooting Review
    Troubleshooting Process
    Troubleshooting Review Ground Rules
     Team Exercise – Develop a template for conducting a Troubleshooting Review.
    Review Focus Areas
     Discussion – How are Quality Issues addressed on troubled projects?

Day Two

Student presentations of white papers read

4.  Project Rescue – Recovering from problems

Project Rescue Effort
Types of Project Rescue
Runaway Project Remedies
Exercise – Project Rescue Process
Rescue Project Charter
Turnaround Strategy
1.  Analyze Current Position
2.  Define Target Position
Exercise – Ideal Solution Element
               3.  Evaluate Strategic Options
4.  Generate Plans & Endorse Strategy
Outcomes for Project Rescue
Other Ramifications
 Discussion – Why is it a challenge to terminate a project?


  1. Terminating a Troubled Project – Planning and Executing a Project Termination
    Project Termination needs to be planned
    Why terminate a project?
    Making the termination decision
    Guidelines for project termination
    Lessons Learned
    Team Discussion – Project Closure
    Final Exercise


  1. Class Closure
    Course Summary
    Course Review





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Rescuing Troubled Projects