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May 12, 2011 / red1s

Re-managing a Failing SharePoint Project


 

Do you have so many projects underway that it is hard to keep up? Did you just get word a project is behind schedule or about to fall apart all together? Is a client about to take his business elsewhere, because he is losing confidence that the project will actually be completed satisfactorily?

Over the years being involved with managing and delivering SharePoint projects, I’ve found the following points to be crucial to getting a project back up and running and finally completed. Obviously I’ve only really applied them to the SharePoint projects I’ve been involved with, but find they can be easily applied to any IT based project.

So here are some assessments and actions you can take to salvage what seems to be a mess.

Does everyone involved have the same understanding of the terms of the project?

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Make sure that you, the client, and everyone working on the project has seen a description of the project and time frame regarding its completion.

This assumes that the terms were written down in the first place and that management and the client signed off on the terms. The terms should accompany all written communication concerning the project. By the time things have run amuck, everyone involved should have seen the terms several times. And that they have read them and understand what was agreed to.

If they have not seen them, or worse yet, no terms were signed off on at the outset, that could be the very reason it is in trouble. When these important matters are not written down and signed off on, each management person and client could have completely different understandings on what is the expected outcome for the project. It is time to correct that, now and to learn the lesson that in future projects everyone involved should be familiar with project terms. If key players have not seen the terms, circulate them now!

Do project team members know the plan for completion of the project?

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Each team member needs to know at what point they will become involved or at what point their component of the project will be required by others down the line. This can only be accomplished well if a plan, complete with milestones, has been circulated among the team members. If there is not step by step plan leading to the completion of the project, no wonder it is slipping away. Get right on it.

With a plan in place and a project in trouble an assessment is in order. How far behind are you? Where is the bottleneck? Revising the plan is in order. Forget about what you had planned to do back the project was first taken on. Where it now and what is are the steps to get it finished. The quicker you can make the assessment and come up with a revised plan the sooner you can complete it.

Factors to consider in a project status meeting

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Courtesy Dilbert copyright

 

If the project is in jeopardy of collapsing it may be beneficial to call a project status meeting. Calling meeting just to be calling them serves very little purpose, in fact it call people away for their work may even add to the delay.

When it comes to analyzing why a project is skidding into deep trouble it is best to have all key players in on the discussion for a correction of course. It is possible that the project is lagging because of misunderstandings. Have all heard and participate in the discussions lessons the likelihood of such problems.

It is just as important not to have too many people present for the meeting, just because someone is a good speaker; or even executives do not necessarily have to attend just because of their position in the company which might not be as crucial in the meeting. All those who have a major function in what is still to be accomplished in order to fulfil the project should be present. Understand each attendee’s probable function in the solution.

Closely manage project resources

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Take charge of the management of the project. You can reign in the project be taking the following steps:

ñ In order for each team member engaged in the project, ensure that each understands their primary and secondary objectives. It is vital that a new objective is formulated and presented near the completion of the primary.

ñ If you do not already have daily reports, implement them now. Each team member should file itemized report of their actions, including times and places. Evidence of the major work such as urls or documents should be attached to the report.

ñ Client contact information (email and telephony) should be at your fingertips so you can inform them of new measures that have been taken to managing the project and keeping them abreast of progress.

In closing I’d recommend that a clear communication channel be made between the client and provider; be it the internal IT department doing the SharePoint implementation or an external Microsoft partner providing the work. SharePoint has the ability to run rampant in these scenarios, just because so much can be done right out of the box. And therefore making it easy for the relevant department or client to request more items without an agreement of some sort being made around SharePoint functionality/integration. Which usually if unmanaged leads to further issues for the supplier of the requirement.

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