David Frederick's | iAIR BLOG

Consulting, Innovation, Strategy, Vision, Education, & Ideation

Keeping Your Project On Track

Don’t you hate it when you get those pop up messages that tell you a task, item, project or activity is late? Some software applications give you a color key to tell you and your team you’re late – Red, Yellow, Orange and Green. Others give you a cute smiley face, sad face or a grimace. That’s because a project plan and managing that plan is all about staying on track. Especially if there are interlocking, parallel and contingent based activities in your plan or workflow. In fact, the most common problem in managing projects big and small, is falling behind schedule.

As we all know, it’s difficult to avoid delays. Especially when there many moving parts in the project or the project movement/activity is tied to others contributing, but you can often improve your situation and still complete the project on time by using some common sense methods.

Try one of these three approaches before accepting the inevitability of defeat or a project hold up:

  • Use the end to recover. Look at the long-term plan. Find places later in the schedule where you can make up for lost time. Even better, build in areas of recovery in your project plan. I have yet to see a project plan that executes to plan and time allocation. Ever!
  • Narrow the scope. Focus on the true goal and end result. Eliminate nonessential elements to reduce cost and save time.
  • Keep your plan fluid. There will always be factors that impact your plan. Ensure your plan is fluid enough to absorb disruption. If your plan is to rigid, you will be knocked completely off course with little chance of full recovery. See the first bullet.
  • Renegotiate with stakeholders. Explore alternatives. Discuss the possibility of increasing the budget or extending deadlines to keep the project on track. Regrettably, this is a solution or tactic of absolute last resort. There is almost never enough money or time to increase the budget without consequences to the project AND your career. Ever. You should have planned better. Deadlines are tricky things in that they are almost always driven by multiple and competing interests –  clients (internal and external), departments, manufacturing, marketing, etc. Again, you should have planned better. Remember, make sure you are not tied to the stake before you put the stake in the ground on deadlines and budget!

As you know, there are millions of books on project management as well as an equal number of frameworks and methodologies. Be sure to use a methodology that suits your project. Use common sense. You would be surprised what a little common sense can do to keep you on track.  You can also check out this interesting article on keeping your projects on track. It has some interesting ideas.

Guide To Project Management

by Loren Gary, Gary Klein, Ron Ashkenas, Melissa Raffoni, Tom Cross, Jon R. Katzenbach, Douglas K. Smith, Nadim F. Matta, Ray Sheen, Clayton M. Christensen, Matt Marx, Howard H. Stevenson, Jimmy Guterman
Source: Harvard Business Review

-DF

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Written by David Frederick

November 29, 2011 at 12:48 PM

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