Summary of How to Save a Failing Project

Chaos to Control

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How to Save a Failing Project book summary
Inside tips for rescuing your project (and for not failing in the first place)


7 Overall

8 Applicability

6 Innovation

7 Style


Project managers Ralph R. Young and Steven M. Brady and engineer Dennis C. Nagle Jr. promise that business project failures are often fixable, whether the problems arise from flaws in planning, process development or communication. They note that companies often can repair broken projects by replanning them in greater detail, and they tell managers how to do that, one small step at a time, by replacing milestones in a project plan with a larger number of “inch stones,” or objectives that involve short-duration tasks. The authors, using a clear expository style that only occasionally succumbs to jargon, explain that the human touch is also a crucial factor in project success or failure. For example, they say managers should encourage their team members to discuss errors openly so they focus on improvement, not blame. Although the book clearly applies to software development projects, getAbstract also recommends it to readers in other industries because the content is helpful and relevant for many other types of projects.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How to determine if a project is failing
  • How to turn a failing project into a productive one
  • How to reduce a project’s vulnerability to failure


Preventing Project Failure
Business projects fail for many reasons, most commonly unreachable objectives, bad cost estimates and weak quality control. Excessive optimism is an especially widespread pitfall in planning. A “collusion of optimists” will end up with unrealistically lofty project...
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About the Authors

Project manager Ralph R. Young has written four books on requirements engineering. Steven M. Bradley is an IT expert and project manager, and Dennis C. Nagle Jr. is an engineer, programmer and software architect.

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