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Distressed Project Turnaround

We help clients get projects that are running over time or budget back on track.

How we deliver impact

More than 90 percent of today’s major projects face schedule delays or cost overruns. McKinsey’s distressed-project-turnaround service is designed to integrate with a project owner’s team when a project is at risk or is already facing challenges.

We have a global and globally mobile pool of McKinsey project directors who bring more than 20 years of senior project-management experience on major projects around the world. For distressed projects, these experts form the core of our deployed project teams who can support clients in an advisory capacity, and also embed in interim management roles. When we are working on project turnarounds, McKinsey teams involve all stakeholders and address all aspects that can negatively impact project delivery. This includes resolving often-deteriorated relationships between owners and contractors.

Our teams provide best-in-class and unbiased project solutions, leveraging several tools, including:

  • RACE diagnostic tool and approach. Assesses the project baseline based on strong analytics to predict the most likely cost and schedule outcomes and viable solutions.
  • Lean diagnostic. Through the use of qualitative and quantitative tools—data analyses and benchmarks, management interviews, field observations, and expert assessments—we pinpoint the project status and reveal project gaps and improvement opportunities.
  • Control Tower. A digital project-management tool that provides project-management teams access to real-time information on design and construction activities.
  • Organizational Health Index. A proprietary McKinsey diagnostic that assesses the health of the project organization.
  • McKinsey capability-building assessment for capital projects. Assess the capabilities of individual project team members to identify areas for targeted skills training and capability building to support the turnaround effort.

Examples of our impact

  • Deployed a “recovery” team to help a client transform a distressed project that was more than $1 billion over budget and one year behind schedule. Our team assumed the role of a deputy director to rapidly institute new governance that increased transparency of the project’s status and changed mindsets and behaviors of the project team. We identified approximately $200 million of savings and also identified schedule alternatives that reduced the delay. Finally, we worked jointly with the asset manager to fill the full-time project director role.
  • Helped our client achieve 20 to 50 percent in productivity improvements on core construction activities of a major offshore project. The McKinsey team was brought in when the project was already more than 80 percent complete and had run into severe productivity issues due to the complexity of remaining tasks.
  • Implemented best practices in project management and contracting that helped stop schedule slippage on a delayed project and saved our client more than €100 million on a €1 billion retrofit of a nuclear power plant.


Filipe Barbosa

Senior Partner, Houston

Filippo Rossi

Senior Partner, Paris

Mark Kuvshinikov

Partner, Houston



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