Would It Be Cheaper to Start from Scratch?

When you resume a paused project, do you wonder if it wouldn't be easier to just start again from scratch? Are you frustrated by the politics? Worried about reassembling a burned-out project team? To gain a valuable edge, read 52 Tips for Resuming Paused Projects.

You face a critical decision. Bookings are up, costs are down. Business looks like it's improving, and prices of critical technologies have fallen. That big project you cancelled in 2022 is still a good idea, and you still want to do it. But should you start from scratch or is there a way to pick up where you left off? Tough questions.

Here are just a few of the issues:

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  • How much would it cost to start from scratch? How much to resume?
  • How do we get the team back together now that they've scattered to the four winds?
  • What do we do about the political questions? How do we win over the people who got it cancelled back in 2022?

52 Tips for Resuming Paused ProjectsAs the manager of a resuming project, or as someone who'd like to resume a cancelled or paused project, you face problems that differ markedly from the more familiar problems of a startup project, or even a continuing project. You must master the politics of resuming a project, of course, but that isn't enough. Once you get underway you'll face problems that you'll never see in a startup or continuation.

For example, if the project was formally cancelled, many of its assets, both human and not, have scattered. Putting them back together again can be a costly endeavor, entailing risks that a startup project or a continuing project never faces.

Sample tips

52 Tips for Resuming Paused Projects is an ebook packed with 52 ideas that project managers and leaders of project-oriented organizations can use right now to address the special problems of resuming paused projects.

Here are some sample tips.

Check for retrospective liabilities
While the project was cancelled or paused, certain expenses, such as vacation and sick time, leases and space charges, which would otherwise have been charged to the project, might have been charged to other accounts. When the project resumes, those accrued charges might suddenly appear in the new project's accounts. Gain commitments that this won't happen, but watch for it anyway.
Watch out for documentation lag
In most projects, documentation lags implementation. When you resume a project, relying on its documentation is therefore risky, because it usually doesn't reflect the state of the project at the time it was shelved. Review all documentation for consistency, completeness and correctness. Flag anything that's dubious.
Avoid while-we're-at-it syndrome
In an ongoing project, completed items tend to remain static, even when we later discover better approaches. In a resuming project, we have a greater tendency to reconsider and redesign things "while we're at it." Watch carefully for this tendency, and maintain enough discipline to make only necessary changes.


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This book has an ISBN of 978-1-938932-16-8.

Table of contents

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  • 1Realign the project to the organization
  • 2Rename the project
  • 3Update the project vision statement
  • 4Recruit some new leadership
  • 5Make a meta-project plan
  • 6Consider downscoping
  • 7Get public support from top management
  • 8Plan for early success
  • 9Create dramatic demonstrations early
  • 10Learn from past efforts
  • 11Be prepared to spend
  • 12Be discrete about being selective
  • 13Marshal political capital
  • 14Check rehiring policies
  • 15Watch for residual burnout
  • 16Remember that life went on during the pause
  • 17Pay attention to virtual team members
  • 18Educate the team about re-forming
  • 19Have a "kick off" celebration
  • 20Accept that some knowledge is unrecoverable
  • 21Recognize that much knowledge was invisible
  • 22Treasure high-level understanding
  • 23Watch out for policy constraints
  • 24Realize that some of what you know is wrong
  • 25Watch out for documentation lag
  • 26Review training needs
  • 27Revisit the customer
  • 28Revisit your competitive analysis
  • 29Reacquire scattered resources
  • 30Do a consistency assessment
  • 31Acquire contiguous space
  • 32Attend to the network and servers
  • 33Allow time for locating tools and jigs
  • 34Refresh your information base
  • 35Find it all
  • 36Tag everything as you go
  • 37Watch for placeholders
  • 38Examine components you're reusing
  • 39Search for new reusable components
  • 40Avoid while-we're-at-it syndrome
  • 41Focus on risk management
  • 42Make training the new people part of the veterans' jobs
  • 43Close the documentation gap
  • 44Institute reviews and inspections
  • 45Examine process constraints
  • 46Test earlier than usual
  • 47Use testing in unusual ways
  • 48Revisit build-vs-buy decisions
  • 49Don't bungle the budgeting or slip on the scheduling
  • 50Check for retrospective liabilities
  • 51Watch for parasitic charges
  • 52Inventory your obligations

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