Posts Tagged ‘take over project’
Something strange is going on this year. I have been asked to provide either guidance or estimations for taking over more ‘failed’ projects from other freelancers or companies than any other year. This week alone, I have been contacted by no less than six companies asking for estimations for taking over projects.
Now don’t get me wrong, gaining work from other peoples mistakes or failed efforts is just as good as winning new work. But what makes any of us believe that we can do a better job than the last freelancer or company?
Generally, when I have finished discussing the project with the prospect on the phone or in a briefing meeting, I come away thinking ‘this is an easy project, I could do this with my eyes shut’. Well guess what – the guy or gal you are being asked to replace most likely had the exact same thoughts at the end of their briefing. If it was that easy, why are they being replaced?
Here are 10 things to watch out for or give thought to when taking over a failing project:
- We all think that our companies are the best, that we as individuals are more talented, and we have better methods and processes. I can guarantee that the freelancer or company that you are being asked to replace had the same view. Are you really so different? Bear this in mind when considering your responses.
- If the last freelancer or company negotiated any money in advance, bear in mind that the project may not have the funds left to complete the work – get the money issue sorted as soon as possible
- The project will undoubtedly be behind schedule by the time you get involved. Make sure you can extend the deadlines already set otherwise you will be in the same position as the last freelancer
- You need to check how much freedom you have in terms of ‘starting again’ or if they want you to just take over – sometimes there is nothing worse than taking over a project and having to build on somebody else’s failing code, designs or other foundations
- On the basis that the previous freelancer was as equally skilled as you, there is a reason they have failed with this project and customer. What is the customer not telling you? Why did the last freelancer or company fail? Ask those difficult and probing questions.
- When you come into a failing project, the customer will already have the project tagged as doomed. Establish what are the ‘quick wins’ that will be needed to turn the project around and restore faith.
- Check the legal situation. If you are asked to take over a project, don’t take the customers word that you can use the other freelancer’s code/designs/ideas. If they have in their contract that the technology belongs to them until it is paid for, you may be building on a foundation which may get pulled without warning
- If the project has failed once, it is more likely that the project would fail again for the same reason that you have not yet been made aware of (maybe the customer keeps changing their mind during the development). Make sure that your agreements, money payments and rights are even tighter and stricter than they normally would be
- If the previous freelancer or company knows they are being replaced and are happy about the situation, see if you can arrange a conversation to get their side of the story. They may have information that would benefit either you working on the project, or you deciding to walk away.
- At the end of the day, taking over a failing project is always more dangerous than working in a green field. If your heart, your mind or you gut are telling you that the project is too easy, the grass too green, or its too good to be true – then it is. Walk away.