Categorized | Management

Project setbacks – They don’t have to stop your project

As every project manager knows problems happen. Whilst in the early days of your project when your schedule and activity plans are freshly minted everything feels like it will go to plan – you have the whole project before you – it’s an exciting time. Once your into the throws of managing the project, however, any number of things can happen that can derail your plans- for example

• Resource issues
• Risk
• Quality problems with the deliverable
• Budget fails to materialize
• Difficulty in obtaining/defining detailed requirements

There can be a huge number of potential issues that could be added to this list.

One thing is for sure – it’s highly unlikely that your project will run 100% smoothly – so you need to be prepared for the odd hic-cup and have a plan of how you will deal with them.

1/ Communication
Communication is key to the success of any project – never more so when the project is experiencing difficulty. Consider your project community

• Steering group
• Sponsor
• Project Team
• Customer
• Stakeholders

Consider which groups (all or some) will need updating as to the challenges that your project faces. Ideally you’ll have an existing project communications plan that you can fall back on – utilize this and any stakeholder assessment you’ve undertaken to ensure you brief the correct audience. Consider too how you will present the information: for example is it a good idea to present it in a way that states – “here is my problem, this is how I think I’ll address it”. Be constructive and be timely! Flagging up issues as they’re spotted should mitigate any last minute reveal making the issue even worse.

2/ Encourage problem solving behaviour within the team
Encourage your team to develop skills and tools that help solve problems. This may in the form of workshops/ brainstorming sessions through to capturing issues through issue registers. Ensure that your team understands its responsibility not only to carry out project activity but to also ensure that the project is mitigated from issues.

2/ Review your plan
Where an issue has raised its head its important that you consider the impact that this may have on the project plan. Most issues will need an activity being carried out in order to resolve it – this will most likely take time and resource which will need to be scheduled accordingly.

3/ Review Budget implications
Along with the schedule consider any budget implications – if the schedule needs to be extended to include mitigation activity this will likely require resources and materials which will result in a financial outlay which might require some business approval.

4/ Review the state of your deliverable
Carry out an impact assessment on your deliverable. Have the issue(s) affected the quality for the product? Can you still meet the scope of the task? If the quality of the deliverable has been impacted is it possible to launch mitigation activity? If your deliverable has suffered a determination in what is expected and there is serious risk in recovery then you must ensure that you report this to your project steering board.

Summary
Problems happen, it’s a fact of life and its a fact of projects. Suffering a problem doesn’t have to curtail your project though and good planning and effective stakeholder management can get you back on track. Do remember the role of lessons learned in all of this – hopefully your issue / problem will provide valuable experience and one which can be transferable to future projects and your peer group.

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