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Stopping Slippage using Project Management Templates

September 24 2008

Almost every Project Manager encounters a project delay in their career. It’s often unavoidable, as you may have been given an impossible delivery date from the outset. Regardless of the reason, these 5 tips will help you to know…

What to do when your project slips

At some point during your project, you may develop a gut feel that your project is going to be late. If this happens, immediately compare your planned vs. actual progress at a summary level and determine whether your gut feel is likely to be correct. If it is, then take these 5 steps:

Just how late exactly?

The first step is to identify how late it is that you’re likely to be. If your plan doesn’t tell you this, then meet with all of your team leaders or members individually to assess the amount they have delivered to date vs. what was planned for delivery at this point. Of the work remaining, how complex or risky is it?

In many cases, people do the easy tasks at the start, so often the last 20% of the project takes 80% of the time. You need to identify the type, quantity and complexity of the work remaining and identify the amount of time it will take to complete it. Follow your gut feel, as it will usually be right.

Root cause analysis

The next step is to identify the root cause of the problem. Only when you know the root cause, will you know how to fix it. Most projects are delayed due to unexpected change requests from the customer, staffing issues, budgetary constraints or quality problems. You need to fix the problems encountered, so that you don’t lengthen the delay.

Front up

Then tell your Sponsor about it. Tell them that you may be late, the reasons why you could be late and what has caused it. Let them know what you’ve already done to fix the problems and what you’ll do to bring the project back on track. Don’t be overly optimistic, instead be realistic. Your customer wants to hear the truth, so keep it short and to the point.

Getting back on track

Now that all of the cards are on the table, you’re ready to try and get back on track. Ask your customer for more time, resources or money, whichever you need the most. If you can’t get it, then review your plan to try and identify non-critical tasks that can be re-scheduled to after the customer has received their final deliverables. Try and reallocate people against tasks to increase the workload of those under-resourced.

Boost motivation

Tell staff you’re behind schedule and motivate them to work harder to help you get back on track. Recognize and reward staff for achievements and manage performance carefully. Build a healthy team morale and inspire them as much as you can. If you lead from the front, by working hard, remaining focused and always positive, then you’ll provide the kick-start that your team needs to boost their performance and help the project to deliver on time successfully .

Save time and effort by using this kit of project management templates from