Have you ever had a project go through its entire lifecycle without missing a single deadline? Come on…be honest. Not likely. The concept of being able to deliver everything – and I mean everything – on time on any given project is fairly fictional. So many things are out of our control that there are always dates that have to be pushed for one reason or another…though they may not have any significant impact on the final solution implementation date.
Now consider critical project dates and deadlines. What about those. Most projects experience one or more delays that do have an impact on the project – dates and deadlines that will raise some sort of red flag with some or all stakeholders. Those are the ones we worry or care the most about. Below I’ve laid out 4 scenarios that can often cause missed project deadlines and some possible ways to work around those issues and keep or get the project back on track.
From my experience, when missed task deadlines start to become a real problem on the project, it is often due to one or more of these reasons that I’ve detailed below…
Presented with unreasonable deadlines.
The project schedule was probably drafted by sales or an account manager and then handed of to the project manager. It was then molded into the very detailed schedule that the project is now being managed against. There may have been some unreasonable deadlines that either were overlooked, or were just not changeable. The project manager and team knew they were unreasonable, but the deadline was mandated by something beyond their control – possibly the customer, an industry requirement, or senior management. Sometimes change orders, pressure from above, or misunderstood requirements can leave you with a project schedule that is no longer doable. And if it’s not adjusted, then the project is going to move further and further off track.
The project needs more resources.
Usually throwing more resources at the problem isn’t the correct action to take. What it can do to your project budget is scary. But there are those rare cases where a project actually does need more resources than are currently being applied. Analyze the situation thoroughly and ensure that this is actually the case for your project before onboarding more help, because the next step will be to fight the battle of getting more funding from either the customer or your own organization – and usually both paths will offer considerable resistance.
The project needs different resources.
Perhaps the resources assigned to the project are lacking some key skills. What if you're trying to implement an solid enterprise cloud-based ERP type system like NetSuite OneWorld and you don't have a key resource that you need to finalize? Meet with the resources that are responsible for the slipping tasks and see where they stand on this. Do they need help? Do you need to bring in a different key resource? You may need to go to their direct supervisor to get the full answer on this but you must take swift action. And if you do end up needing to replace project resources, then the budget will likely take a hit as the new resource gets up to speed. Be sure to make the appropriate adjustments to the budget forecast.