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Rescue the Problem Project: A Complete Guide to Identifying, Preventing, and Recovering from Project Failure Hardcover – Mar 20 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 277 pages
  • Publisher: AMACOM (March 20 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814416829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814416822
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.2 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #232,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

..". lays out an insightful process, based on real world examples, to identify, prevent and recover from project failure." -"-PM World Journal"

About the Author

TODD C. WILLIAMS, PMP is a senior project audit and recovery specialist with over 25 years of international experience.

"

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Format: Hardcover
In my opinion, this book is an absolute 'must-have' on the bookshelf of every project manager.

If you've worked on a project that was in trouble, then you will value Todd C. Williams' insights into both the human and technical sides of project failure. Several times I caught myself nodding my head in agreement or muttering "oh, yeah". He has peppered the book with case studies to illustrate the material with real-life examples.

If your project isn't in trouble, this book can help you avoid failure by identifying and understanding the root causes of project failure.

Todd starts with the basics, answering the questions "What is a Red Project?" and "What is Project Failure and Recovery?" This chapter would be excellent reading for the executive members of the steering committee facing a project that is dangerously off-track.

Todd identifies five main steps - Identify, Audit, Analyze, Negotiate and Execute - to go from the Red project to a successful outcome. For each of these steps, he describes the tasks and deliverables in detail that the Recovery Manager will need to be successful.

The chapters on Project Audit ("what went wrong") will guide the Recovery Manager through all aspects of the project audit. Todd doesn't just ask "were the estimates wrong?" He asks, "how were the estimates developed?" and "is there a better methodology?" to determine estimates for the recovery project.

It's clear in Rescue the Problem Project that Todd C. Williams has "been there and done that". He shares details of the project failure and recovery process from his 25 years of project management experiences.

As a project manager, this book will provide value for your current project and every project after that.
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By jaime on Sept. 4 2014
Format: Hardcover
great
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 37 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Be smart and learn from your mistakes. Be smarter and learn from other people's mistakes by reading this book March 2 2012
By Dr. Thomas Juli - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Projects become more prevalent. Not surprisingly the art of project management becomes more popular. Unfortunately this does not imply that the more projects there are the more successful they are. As a matter of fact a significant percentage of projects fail or do not yield the desired results. While in recent years the number of successful projects are on the rise, it is scary how slow this process has been. Todd Williams' book "Rescue the Problem Project: A Complete Guide to Identifying, Preventing, and Recovering from Project Failure" is a welcome and much needed aid to help rescue and re-align struggling and failing projects. It is a very valuable resource for anyone working in a project management. Regardless whether or not the own project is on its way to glory or doom.
Williams embraces a holistic approach to project management. He explains the need and value of existing project management tools that help rescue the project management. And he goes beyond the mere listing of tools. In the Introduction of the book he stresses four key factors that are critical in rescuing a problematic project: (1) The answers to a problem in or with a project are in the team. (2) A strong team can surmount most problems. (3) Stay involved with the team. (4) Objective data is your friend, providing the key way out of any situation. By emphasizing the value of the team Williams goes beyond a mechanical "Abhandlung" of a recipe book for project rescues. He explains in simple, plain and thus easy to understand language why most answers to problems in and with a project are rooted in the team. A project is not made up of resources but human beings interacting in a social environment, building communities and network. As complex and complicated this network is, it contains an endless number of potential traps and opportunities at the same time.
Having set up the foundation of his approach to rescuing projects Williams outlines 5 steps to recover struggling projects:
The first step is to realize that a problem exists. As simple as this sounds this may actually be the most difficult step of all. The key is that the awareness of a problem is not limited to the operational level of a project but that management has to acknowledge this fact and expresses an interest in resolving the issue, helping the team to become successful.
The second step to project recovery is an audit of the project. The term "audit" has a negative connotation to many project practitioners. This must not be the case if all audits would follow the guidelines Williams describes in his book. He starts analyzing the human role in a project, followed by reviewing the scope on a red project, determining timeline constraints and examining technology's effect on the project.
The insights gained from the audit analyzed in the third step. They are the ingredients for planning the actual project recovery. To me this part of the book is the most valuable one. Not because the author develops a clean and clear outline effective approaches to analyzing audit data but because he explains how they fit in with the core statement of the book, that a strong team is one of the critical success factors for project recovery. Doing so he stresses that project recovery is not a mechanical task, following a checklist and applying sane project management techniques. Instead he explains that it takes leadership and oversight, a deep understanding of the heart and soul of a project. Acknowledging the fact that more and more projects do not follow the traditional, sequential waterfall approach, Todd Williams gives an overview of other project management frameworks and methodologies, namely Agile and Critical Chain. He then compares them with respect change management needs, customer relationship, estimations, project constraints, subcontractor relations, and team structure.
The fourth step to project recovery is to propose workable resolutions. This is when the recovery manager presents the insights from the audit analysis and concluding mitigations and negotiates the next concrete steps with the project sponsor and stakeholders. Williams stresses the importance of staying focused on project recovery and not getting sidetracked by distractions such as maintenance and other conflicting projects.
Last but not least, the fifth step involves the actual execution of the recovery plan.
As hard, tedious, frustrating and rewarding project recoveries can be one of the key questions is what project managers can learn from past mistakes and successful recoveries. This is covered in the final part of the book entitled "Doing it Right the First Time: Avoiding Problems that Lead to Red Projects". It shows that project failure often starts at the very beginning of the project. It can be prevented by properly defining a project's initiations, assembling the right team, properly dealing with risk and implementing effective change management.
While the book may be most interesting to those who are facing or have faced problem projects I hope that novice project managers read this book, too. It will help them avoid common mistakes and set up a good and solid structure for project success. And in case troubles arise this book will help them guide projects to safer havens.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Good Stuff April 22 2011
By Holli Radmin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book offers sound advice and guidance in dealing with red projects or those heading in that direction.
Todd offers insightful and sometimes amusing explanations in his case studies. I particularly liked Case Study #3-1 The Stockholm Syndrome. But my favorite was Case Study #8-5 Name the One Thing the Customer Would Love. It never hurts to make me smile while reading something that could, in someone elses hand, be considered dry.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Cleaning Up A Project Mess? Read This In Week One Dec 31 2011
By Christopher Dennis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Hurrah! We now have an insightful book about righting troubled projects from an experienced practitioner. As a fellow project rescuer, I've read a number of other works on this subject. Todd's is the best book in its genre.

It offers level-headed, immediately applicable approaches for anyone who finds themselves cleaning up a project mess. I think the book is especially valuable for people who are dealing with their first project recovery.

I required portions of this book in my Practical Project Management for Leadership course: twenty percent of the participants--folks from five continents--felt it was the most helpful of the assigned readings.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Much to Learn from the Author's Experience! Sept. 23 2011
By Dennis Hull - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It is almost certain that an experienced Project Manager has, at one time or another, run up against a project that is over-budget, running late, or otherwise out of control...a project that is "in the red." Rescue the Problem Project by Todd Williams presents methods for recovering red projects, reminds us that recovery is itself a project and provides insights into keeping projects out of the red in the first place.

The book presents suggestions and prescriptions based on the author's 25 year experience as a "Senior Audit and Recovery Specialist" and each chapter is peppered with very readable, brief case studies highlighting examples of his applying the techniques he describes. While there are a few examples that come off as a bit self-aggrandizing all are immensely helpful in understanding how and why the techniques work which provides a degree of credibility lacking in many business books.

A seasoned Project Manager will recognize their own experience as the author notes that poor scope definition, lack of executive leadership, and ineffective change management are barriers to project recovery (and most likely contributed to problems in the first place). And no PM should be surprised at the need to perform an audit and engage with stakeholders to collect data and understand the current and desired states. However the author follows his own prescriptions providing specificity in his examples of how each of these is often done wrong and how to do them right.

It may be unsettling to some PM's to read the suggestion that a specialized, external "Recovery Manager" rather than the Project Manager him or herself is the best person to perform the audit and analysis. The chief argument in favor of this approach is that "An objective view is critical to a proper audit and reducing any preconceptions of a solution." The book notes the potential for resistance to this notion but it seems a reasonable approach and calls to mind the frequently cited Einstein quote that "Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them."

The audit is the second of the five steps in the recovery process with the first being the problem realized and the remaining three being analyze data, negotiate solutions, and execute the new plan. The "how to" of each step is well described and the book's companion website provides templates and spreadsheets to assist in rescuing your own projects should your organization decline to hire a recovery manager. Another of the recurring themes of the author's method is to start performing root-cause analysis early and to respond to the findings quickly, "This is a distinguishing feature of my approach; other approaches often omit root-cause analysis or leave it for the end of the process." The reason for this is straightforward...until the root causes are found and mitigated; they are still able to exert the same kind of pressure on the project that put it in the red in the first place.

Identifying and recovering from project failure are not the only goals of the book; prevention is an essential theme to which the last 40 pages are dedicated and again the author's experience proves valuable as he provides details for improvement in, and specific examples of the areas of leadership, team management, risk and handling change. Chapters 10 through 13 are not officially part of the section on prevention but clearly could be. These chapters provide some of the best primers on and comparisons of classical, agile and critical chain methodologies that I've read and I couldn't agree more that when it comes to methodology, "This philosophy--one size fits all--really fits no project." The idea is to treat methodologies as tools in the bag where the marrying of the right methodology to the particular project can go quite a long way toward avoiding problems.

While many of the 261 pages of Rescue the Problem Project present ideas with which an experienced Project Manager is likely familiar, there is much to gain in the detailed examples and the way in which the ideas are presented. New PM's (those who have some education or experience in the field) will certainly benefit as they learn from the author's advice and experience how to prevent projects from going into the red.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
That happened to me Sept. 6 2011
By Gaizka Llona - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
That happened to me too.

That's what you'll be saying reading the book. You might find you dealt with it differently, but Todd provides ideas and experiences based on reality.

Highly recommendable reading.


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