How do you use project management skills to bring a project behind schedule back on track?

Bottom line: Project management is about making promises and keeping promises.

Promises are far more likely to be kept if they are made voluntarily, and according to the team’s capability. Doing this requires a lot of skill so time is not lost.

You’re behind schedule

Lack of time is arguably the biggest reason for project failure. Well, ok, lack of wisdom, really; but beyond that it’s lack of time. So what should you do?

Train Wreck imageStart with a good diagnosis. The project may be on track, it’s just that it has been assigned the wrong schedule. Commonly, adequate resources are not allocated at the start of the project. Dates get set without adequate understanding of requirements and completion criteria. (Oh, no?  How many of you have managers that set dates before requirements are known?)  Then the fun begins. It culminates with a lot of team infighting, blame shifting and unhappy stakeholders.

Let’s go back to basics: ‘Success’ is meeting client expectations. PERIOD.

Everyone on the team needs to be clear on what is important, to whom and in what priority. The ‘Critical success factors’…Scope, cost, quality (arguably part of scope, unless giving the appearance of having delivered is your goal) and schedule. You were probably not all that clear on the true priority or balance of these factors to begin with which is why you’re now in this mess.

Now you need a ‘get well’ plan. That means recasting the work remaining to fit the priorities.

Start with revisiting the project scope. Sure, it’s documented and everyone knows it… Hahaha. (You’re cracking me up!) …but few will agree on it. Get that signed off and again agreed to by all the stakeholders.

Develop a new plan and schedule that fits. Then… QA the plan!!!

Remember, there is a minimum development time. Do not get suckered into signing up for an unworkable schedule just because you’re afraid of management. They are counting on you to get it right this time.

Adding people to a late project will double costs and result in a very late delivery, and nobody will like the result. Rarely does anyone have time to do the job right, but unfortunately there is always time for rework.

Oh, and another thing…..If your project is off track, do not ride in the elevator with your project sponsor! Develop a ‘get well plan’, and work it through with your team and all the stakehoders. Then, you can safely ride in the elevator with your project sponsor.

Further reading:

Next steps:

As you no doubt know, project life is complex and fraught with many obstacles.  A seasoned professional can help you with the most efficient path to your project goals.

Why wait?  If you are an executive overseeing projects that have:

  1. Significant financial consequence for delays
  2. Repeated schedule slips
  3. High degree of uncertainty or risk
  4. Large number of cross-functional team members that are geographically dispersed
  5. High-level and constant focus, intensity, and attention from executives

We have over three decades in successfully managing technical projects of all kinds for companies of varying sizes, markets and cultures.

We offer a no-obligation consultation discussion that will help us determine a solution for your situation.

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At no cost you will receive the benefit of an expert, independent review of your business growth goals or organizational issues.  If you are located within or near the San Francisco Bay Area we will visit in person. If you are more than 2-hours outside of the Bay Area we can meet over the phone or web-meeting. You will receive a written summary assessment that will include recommendations that are specially tailored to your situation.

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2017-07-24T20:48:26+00:00By |Expert Advice, Our Services, Solutions|

About the Author:

Joe Kolinger is President of Kolinger & Associates, a management consulting firm specializing in organizational transformation for business growth and profitability.  Having worked with hundreds of companies he provides elegant ways to solve complex problems through the application of strategy, technology and people.