Managing Projects in Trouble


Book Review

Book Title:  Managing Projects in Trouble: Achieving Turnaround and Success
Author: Ralph L. Kliem, PMP
Publisher: CRC Press
List Price: $74.95 (currently discounted)
Format: Hard Cover, 210 pages
Publication Date: May 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4398-5246-0
Reviewer: Améy Kulkarni, PMP
Review Date: November 2022



Despite managing budget, schedule, scope, quality, and other constraints, sometimes projects fail. In this book, the author talks about identifying signs of a ‘troubled projects’ early on and acting to turn the project away from the risks. The author, Ralph L Kliem, PMP, has 25+ years of experience managing projects. From his experience, he shares 5 key secrets to effectively turnaround difficult projects.

In this book, you will learn to take action in a way that will increase the likelihood of success and minimize the possibility of failure for you and your project.

Specifically, you will be able to

    • Recognize the symptoms of troubled projects.
    • Make the necessary changes to turn around projects in trouble.
    • Revisit a project’s vision, and develop a new or revised vision.
    • Look at all the options to turn a project into reality.
    • Choose the most appropriate option.
    • Execute the new or revised vision.” (Kliem,Introduction p1-2)

Overview of Book’s Structure

Managing Projects in Trouble has 7 chapters. The author primarily speaks about 5 key actions or 5 E’s as the author calls them viz. Energize, Envision, Explore, Evaluate and Execute.

The author sets the stage with an introduction in chapter 1 by giving us an overview of the symptoms of a troubled project, the patterns to look for and 5 key actions a project manager can take. The next five chapters are dedicated to each key action and a deeper dive into the specifics. The author’s experience reflects the organized thoughts for each action and the case studies baked into them. Lastly, the author shares a few final thoughts in chapter 7. He talks about 5 Es in prior chapters and leaves with 5 Cs in addition to that. The 5Cs include Communication, Collaboration, Commitment, Concentration, and Change management.

The book contains case studies to go over the concepts, ample diagrams and tables to structure the thoughts. Overall, the book is written in simple, easy-to-understand language.


The book emphasizes the 5Es to guide the project manager to get the project into ‘green’ from the ‘red’ zone. 5 Es are Energize, Envision, Explore, Evaluate and Execute. The author has dedicated one chapter per ‘E’ to unpack the concept, case study, and a starting pack for the managers…


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How to cite this review: Kulkarni, A. (2020).  Managing Projects in Trouble, book review, PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue XII, December. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/pmwj124-Dec2022-Kulkarni-Managing-Projects-in-Trouble-book-review.pdf

About the Reviewer

Amey Kulkarni, PMP

Dallas, Texas, United States


Amey Kulkarni, PMP, is a professional with over ten years of experience in CRM consulting and technical project management. He has enabled customers to leverage CRM capabilities and provided IT-business alignment. Amey has led enterprise-level projects in a Fortune 8 company in the United States (2019) and implemented CRM solutions considering scalability and long-term vision.

Améy holds a masters in IT Management from the University of Texas at Dallas – School of Management. He is active in the PMI-Dallas Chapter and Salesforce Trailblazer Community Dallas Group.

Améy can be contacted at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ameykulk

Editor’s note:  This book review was the result of a partnership between the PM World Journal and the PMI Dallas Chapter. Authors and publishers provide books to the PM World Journal; books are delivered to the PMI Dallas Chapter, where they are offered free to PMI members to review who agree to provide a review within 45 days; book reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library. 

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