Article - The Ultimate Matrix for Troubled Projects Recovery



In recent years I have been spending a good portion of my consulting time on rescuing troubled projects around the world. Very often I would receive an e-mail stating something to the effect of:

Hi Jamal,

Our company is currently experiencing certain issues with our (typically flagship) Project X and we would like to hear your opinion on how to remedy the situation. Would you be able to fly here for a project audit?

As a result of this, after having been exposed to a multitude of various troubled initiatives, I decided to attempt to systemize different types of problematic projects and potential approaches to their rescue (see Table 1). Please also note that I am trying to combine both the project portfolio management (i.e. value) and project management (i.e. on-time, on-budget, etc.) aspects of project success.

Table 1


Table Legend

  • PPMGood – project is valid from the project portfolio management perspective (i.e. if delivered, the final product or service will deliver value to the stakeholders).
  • PPMBad – project is problematic from the project portfolio management perspective (i.e. will not deliver any value to the stakeholders) aka “dumb idea” aka “waste of company resources” aka “executive pet project”.
  • PMGood – project is reasonably on-time, on-budget and is expected to deliver the full scope planned
  • PMBad – project is considerably over budget, late and possibly not delivering full scope.
  • Fixable – there is still a possibility of saving either project management or portfolio management facets of the project.
  • Non-fixable – it is too late to fix the project problems, either on the project management or portfolio management’s side.

The Explanation

So here is my question for you:

Do you think I managed to create an exhaustive “Troubled Project Recovery” matrix?

  1. Yes, I don’t see any other potential scenarios
  2. Some of the scenarios have been omitted (please indicate which ones)

About the Author

Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP – president and founder of Thinktank Consulting is an internationally acclaimed expert and speaker in the areas of project/portfolio management, scope definition, process improvement and corporate training. Jamal Moustafaev has done work for private-sector companies and government organizations in Canada, US, Asia, Europe and Middle East.  Read Jamal’s Blog @

Jamal is an author of two very popular books: Delivering Exceptional Project Results: A Practical Guide to Project Selection, Scoping, Estimation and Management and Project Scope Management: A Practical Guide to Requirements for Engineering, Product, Construction, IT and Enterprise Projects.