When your project experiences trouble, there are usually several courses of action you can take to recover from difficulties and try to ensure that the team meets critical project targets. Among your basic options are those listed below, not in any particular order except for the first and last options.
Push for compliance
In most cases, your first course of action should be to try to maintain the original plan. In other words, don’t simply assume that potential changes should automatically be accepted or accommodated. Sometimes a firm reminder of the commitment and an offer of support may be enough to stimulate better performance.
Recover in later tasks
This is sometimes a better option than attempting to fix the immediate problem. Be sure that future plans are reflected in the project schedule. But it’s still important to circle back and figure out what is causing the deliverable or performance issue.
Get additional help. Be sure to consider the potential increase in project expenditure - and the possibility of diminishing returns when resources are added. Having three times the resources on an activity doesn’t necessarily mean it will be completed in one-third the time.
When something is unavailable or expected to be delivered late, consider substituting a comparable item. Be sure to consider any potential effects on deliverable performance.
Use alternative work methods
Sometimes it’s possible to find a more expedient way to accomplish the work. However, changing work methods often has an effect on cost and/or schedule.
Accept partial deliverables
Delivery of only some of the items you need may allow you to keep the project moving forward.
Offer a bonus or other inducement to improve performance. This strategy is often directed at suppliers. Penalty clauses may have the same effect, but are negative. This may work on direct employees, but it’s not usually the best motivational route to take with employees and it usually doesn’t have a high success factor.
Renegotiate cost and schedule targets
Explore the possibility of extending the deadline or increasing the budget, if it helps. This will probably be easier if you can show that problems are due to estimating errors rather than performance issues. Renegotiating those targets won’t solve anything if there’s a real underlying performance issue that needs addressed. Otherwise, you’ll continually be experiencing the same problem or problems over and over again and just be losing time, money, and customer satisfaction fast.
Reduce the quality and/or performance requirements of the project deliverables so as to reduce the work required. This should ordinarily be your last course of action, when maintaining cost or schedule targets is of paramount importance. It’s imperative that all stakeholders agree before you take this course of action. It’s never an ideal situation to reduce performance expectations because it will almost never go over well with the customer. Again, use this as a last resort.