Are you seeing any of the problems faced by troubled programs ?  If so, you need a recovery plan to get your program back on track.

Here’s the 5 step ESI process for getting out of trouble — I saw a webinar hosted by them and these are my notes. 

The whole approach assumes you have been parachuted in to fix someone else’s flailing program, which I suppose is what ESI do. You can adapt the steps if you are trying to turn your own program around, or make the steps smaller to turn around a project instead of a whole program.

Assessment Phase

Step 1: Define Charter

Duration: 1-2 days

This formally sanctions the existence of an assessment and recovery effort. It provides the assessment and recovery lead with the proper authority to complete the activities necessary to develop an assessment plan.
Define the charter with the sponsor and steering committee. 

The charter should cover:

  • Program history and sensitivities (although I wouldn’t write all this down)
  • Assessment approach: how many people are you going to interview, in individual meetings or in group sessions etc.
  • An action plan with dates

Then get it all agreed – which is what the charter is for. In this step you would also initiate contact with the program and project teams.

Step 2: Develop assessment plan

In this step you aim to achieve the objectives of the charter. This allows the assessment team to perform their assessment quickly, ensures accurate findings, and minimizes distractions for the project team.  After all, you want to keep going with things that are progressing well.

  • Establish a team
  • Review and analyze the assessment model (how are we going to review documents, how are we going to move forward with analysis)
  • Review critical documents
  • Develop assessment plan

This is a formal step, so get the plan signed off.

Step 3: Conduct assessment plan

Duration: 2-5 days

In this step you determine the true current status of the program and constituent projects.  You identify major threats, opportunities and problems.  You begin to consider the recovery as well as who would be on your recovery team.

  • Establish a war room
  • Assemble the team
  • Implement the assessment plan (interviews and document review)
  • Aggregate and rank-order the findings from the most problematic to least problematic
  • Validate, update and finalize findings with program team and sponsor

Recovery Phase

Step 4: Develop recovery plan

This step leads to a plan to get to a functioning program.  You establish a road map and process to achieve the goals, and continue to build confidence and morale.

Prepare a plan that everyone sees as realistic and achievable: this helps build confidence.  There is no Plan B for this recovery plan: this is it!  The goal is to save the program from loss and restore it to usefulness, preventing total failure along the way.

  • Produce an achievable schedule
  • Re-establish customer management confidence
  • Negotiate a new baseline

Step 5: Conduct recovery plan

In this step you execute your recovery plan to return the program to usefulness.  You validate estimating methods and their accuracy.  This allows you to produce an accurate forecast of program completion.  Begin with the end in mind: a program that is no longer in recovery.

This article first appeared at Rebel’s Guide to Project Management

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