Take Action: 8 Steps To Get Your Project Back on Track
Every project has moments where you look at it and think you may not get your deliverables on time. Usually, those thoughts are fleeting, and you end the day with the item on your desk. Effective deadline management helps you move the project back on track. Here are some things to get your project moving if you miss a deadline.
Examine the Facts
Take a moment to review the situation objectively. Remain calm and professional. Yelling and placing blame will not help. Identify the priority level of the missed deadline. Consider the impact it will have on other deliverables. Upon closer review, you may see that the delay is not critical to delivering the final product on time.
Review Your Plan
Sit down with your project management application or other MS Project alternatives to determine how to overcome the delay. Brainstorm a list of solutions that will bring the project back on task. Don’t implement those ideas yet; have them prepared.
Meet With Your Team
Start with the people responsible for the deliverable. Ask if they feel they will meet the deadline. Don’t place blame, and encourage open conversation about what happened. Ask open-ended questions to clarify the situation. Personal issues, communication challenges, or scope creep can all be the root cause.
Communicate With Customers
If you may miss a high-priority deliverable, early communication is critical. Explain the delay without placing blame or undermining your team. If the customer is adding new criteria to the project, meet with them to explain how those changes impact the timeline. You may need to manage their expectations.
Find Creative Solutions
Work with your entire team and ask for ideas to correct the situation. Employees working on the project can have creative solutions. Don’t forget your ideas from earlier. Some ways to help get the project back on track include:
- Mandatory overtime
- Temporarily reassigning responsibilities
- Shifting deadlines
- Utilizing temporary employees
- Increasing team size
Revisit Your Plan
With your new ideas in place, make changes to your original project plan. Make sure that the changes will not negatively affect other deadlines. Break larger tasks into smaller assignments to recover lost time.
Look at Your Budget
Make sure emergency funds cover additional costs. Overtime can be damaging to your budget. When you budget correctly and identify challenges early, you limit the financial impact. However, if the project scope has changed, you may need to request additional funding.
Motivate Your Staff
Now is the time to double down on your management skills. Remain confident that the project timeline will recover. Keep an eye on everyone’s attitude to prevent burnout. Motivate your staff through this process. Once the project is back on track, look for small ways to restore a positive work-life balance. Employees may like the opportunity to leave an hour early on a Friday or send them home with gift certificates for meal delivery kits.
Take a deep breath and keep motivating your team toward success. Keep a diligent eye on your timeline to prevent another delay.