Rescuing a deadlocked project

Agile methods, transparency and visible risk management restored the deadlocked project

The complexity of projects grows rapidly with the number of stakeholders; it can present challenges - and it does not get easier when the project is critical and works with a tight timeline.

A large Danish production company was facing a business-critical project that had stalled due to several challenges between and among the many stakeholders across the business. The project manager from kaastrup|andersen stepped in with simple tools inspired by agile project methods, creating oversight and transparency. The agile way of working both the many stakeholders and the project team together through frequent status meetings and ensured common priorities, which focused on progress and brought risk management out into the open.

Read about how focused management and agile methods put the project on an even keel and created success.

Do you want to know more?

Lars Glowienka

CSO
+45 70 27 77 19
Contact me

Challenge

kaastrup|andersen was asked to take over project management on a product development project. The initial purpose was to add capacity to the project. However, it quickly became apparent that the project faced several other challenges that needed to be addressed in order for the project to be successful. A systematic review, documentation and analysis of the project's timeframe, scope, and budget, combined with a close dialogue with the various stakeholders showed that the root causes of the project's challenges were multiple:

  1. Lack of insight and understanding of the needs of the other parties in the development process
  2. Lack of alignment on the scope of the product
  3. Inadequate organization, which hindered transparency between the business partners and led to problems not finding their way to the right people
  4. Basic disagreements between the involved parties and affected business units

The four challenges had several consequences:

  • a steadily growing delay of the project
  • no success finding mitigations for the current risks and challenges encountered
  • new problems arising and the road to progress becoming more and more impassable

In other words: the project was caught in the middle of a downward spiral of problems. kaastrup|andersen's task was thus not only to manage deliveries on a tight timeline, but to bring together the project's stakeholders to join forces and cooperate in the project.

Solution

The project manager implemented a more transparent and flexible approach to ensure that the project was moving towards the right track. There was also a need for a clear organization where responsibilities were clearly described and placed.

The first step was to introduce agile project management. The agile approach ensured that the tasks and division of tasks became transparent for all, because the work was now prioritized and discussed in fixed joint forums, where short timelines ensured an ongoing reconciliation of expectations between the stakeholders.

Delays in design deliveries were mitigated by maintaining a close dialogue between all subcontractors, so that ‘need to’ specifications from one subcontractor to another were part delivered in time to reduce a possible delay in the next stage. With this came naturally also a risk of changes and iterations, which also had to be controlled; here the agile approach was also useful with frequent meetings, common prioritization, and transparency.

The project manager made sure that the appropriate management level took responsibility for the risks the project was facing. This meant that support for the project and the participants were guaranteed, and it made it possible to avoid further conflict to arise in the project in case not all mitigations were to succeed.

Finally, all risks and opportunities were documented and made visible in the various joint (meeting) structures that had now been established for the project. This meant that the project had an overview of risks and opportunities and was able to swiftly mitigate any negative effects and take advantage of opportunities as they arose.

The focus of the work was to keep constant control of the project - both in relation to deliveries, changes, and not least stakeholders - and thus ensure compliance with the tight timeline. In short, the project manager from kaastrup|andersen facilitated and ensured:

  1. A common overview of progress for both internal and external stakeholders
  2. A transparent prioritization of activities and deliveries and thus a common understanding of and support for decisions in the project so that the project avoided bottlenecks
  3. Ability to react quickly when new problems arose so that a possible negative impact of the project's progress was prevented
  4. A plan that could be continuously adapted with a view to continuous exploitation of new opportunities with the goal of increased benefit realization
  5. Risk management that was visible to the stakeholders and the team, so it was a close-knit project, which took care of the problems as a team

Result

The project was put on an even keel - and met the set goals. The introduction of an agile approach created focus on progress, which meant that though the course of the project, the participants worked increasingly as a team across the organization, and problems were solved as they arose. At the same time, the intense focus on risk and opportunity management meant that there was less firefighting and that the project managed to identify and exploit multiple potentials for increased benefits during the project process.

At the same time, part of the success is that the project also 'mood-wise' got on an even keel throughout the process: from the situation with the 4 challenges that stemmed from deficient or even bad relations between the stakeholders to a state where the mood was reversed and everyone involved really wanted the project and the collaboration.

During the project process, the organization was trained in new ways of working in projects. Especially the method of breaking down deliveries into smaller portions, and ensuring continuous flow between internal and external parties is now the basis for the development of the next product for the customer - and that is with a timeline, which currently total only 2/3 of the former already ambitious schedule. And it should not be underestimated that the customer now has a team with energy and spirit ready to take on the next challenge.

kaastrup|andersen took care of the management of the project.

Are you and your projects in a similar situation? Is it difficult to create the necessary momentum and ensure that all the project's many stakeholders pull in the same direction?

kaastrup|andersen has many years of experience with project and programme management in a large number of industries. We work with both agile and traditional project management methods - in the combination that suits the individual company best. Contact us and let us together ensure more momentum, value, and efficiency in your company's projects.

Do you want to know more?

Lars Glowienka

CSO
+45 70 27 77 19
Contact me