Book Review: Rescue the Problem Project

Anyone reading this book must first face the uncomfortable truth that most projects have issues, and in many cases this will lead to the 25% failed projects claimed by the author. Like any issue, recognising you have a problem is the first step to dealing with it.

This is a very honest book in that, the author is very clear about what you should expect as well as highlighting the prior knowledge required. The book is aimed squarely at project professionals with knowledge of either PMI PMBOK or Prince2 approaches. This is a nice touch as too many books are written with either American or UK audiences in mind, but rarely for both.

Todd C. Williams has unleashed, through Rescue the Problem Project, a safeguard against project failure that every project manager would get something from reading.
Todd C. Williams has unleashed, through Rescue the Problem Project, a safeguard against project failure that every project manager would get something from reading.

The first chapter highlights the recovery process of: Recognition; Audit; Analysis; Negotiation; and, Execution. These themes are explored further in the succeeding chapters.

Projects involve people and this is what makes them both interesting and on occasions, frustrating. The author recognises this and at least half of the book explores how to get the best out of the various stakeholders, with the remainder of the book providing tools to assist in this.

One of the real strengths of this book is the case studies scattered throughout the book. Although predominantly IT focused, this reflects the author’s real experience and I was surprised at how many of these I had witnessed myself. This reinforces the view that much of our learning comes from our own experiences of projects issues and failures. Anyone who denies they have not experienced at least some of these key points has either been very lucky or are misleading themselves. Rather than pointing the blame, the author offers approaches to working with a range of stakeholders.

The book is a handy reference, however the author does recommend reading the whole book first. The case studies provide snippets of context to aid understanding and this is useful in reinforcing a point – another aid to the text as a reference book. Many of issues and solutions will be familiar to project professionals, but the book works by distilling these into one volume. Project recovery is very much a specialism, but it is surprising how often this is required even if our clients are loathe to use that terminology.

This approach does require honesty both from the project manager, customers and the other project stakeholders. The author has plenty of examples where the truth was not welcomed and failure subsequently occurred. This is not to elevate the author to guru status, but rather as someone who has ‘been there and done that’.

For some project managers, in particular, I could imagine that the focus on IT (although other areas are included), may not be to their taste. However, I would suggest that every project manager would get something from reading this, even if that is merely the recognition that they too have potential issues.

Thoroughly recommended reading!

Do you have a book that you’d like to review? Get in touch with Arras People: we’re always looking for new contributors that have an eye for titles pertaining to PPM issues and recruitment issues alike.


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