Tips to Get a Project Back on Schedule

Admit it, we have all been in situations when we are working day and night on a project, and it is still running late. However hard we may try, we just can't seem to bring it back on schedule.

I thought to share with you some of the techniques that have worked for me successfully in the past.

First things first... In a project, there are three major variables: scope, time, & resources. You must find out which of these are fixed and which are variable. Sometimes the scope could be fixed or the time or deadline, and at other times the budget, or people is fixed.

I hate to be on projects where everything is fixed, non flexible, and as a result the quality suffers and many a project head for failure... So it is good to understand these upfront. If you haven't figured this out yet, now is a good time to do so.

So when I realize that things are not as they should have been - project running behind schedule or the cost is going beyond the budget, one of the first things I do is to plan for a meeting of the key stakeholders - users, management, and our own team.
For the project manager, communicating good and bad news up and down the ladder is of paramount importance, and should be handled with ease at any time. Hiding bad news creates more problems in the long run, and lead to project failure eventually.

At the meeting, I openly discuss about the scope, objectives, plan, progress so far, issues encountered and current challenges. Admitting my mistakes is tough, but after some initial bashing, people who are interested in the project's success start to look objectively and we all brainstorm to look for alternatives, solutions, and ways to bring the schedule back.
Most of the times, we adjust the scope, or find some additional people, and have occasionally found some extra money to help us through. We prioritize the remaining tasks, and rework the plan, delegating and tracking more closely. This brings in fresh, positive energy in the room, as everybody starts to take interest and get involved afresh.

The most important thing that happens with such meetings is that users begin to trust us more because of our openness, and bringing out the issues up front, which is my objective all the time. Getting user involvement and ownership, making them user champions works wonders.
Good communication, not only at project initiation, but all along the development and implementation process helps to create a team effort.
Go ahead, and get your project back on schedule…