Tired Of Dealing With Schedule Delays? This Is How To Reduce And Prevent Them
A lot of project managers think dealing with a delay of schedule is just an unavoidable part of any project, and there is little you can do to avoid them. However, there are plenty of effective project management skills and practices you can learn that can help you if your objective is to reduce your project timeline delay. Eventually, you may even prevent them completely. With adequate planning and proper risk management, you can say goodbye to schedule delay.
This blog will walk you through some basic concepts like what exactly is project delay in project management, what are some of the common reasons that can cause a setback, and what you can do to prevent them. Keep on reading to find out!
First Of All, Let’s Define What A Schedule Delay Is
Every project manager is familiar with the project triangle that is made up of 3 variables that determine the quality of every project. These are scope, cost or budget, and time or schedule, with the quality of the overall project being in the middle of it.
The scope variable describes what the end goal of the project is and what will be delivered throughout the life of the project. The budget or cost indicates the amount you will be spending in order to complete the project. Lastly, the schedule or time of a project determines the timeline and the exact dates you need to reach your goals to be able to complete your project on time.
When any of these activities are not carried out on time, that is what becomes a project delay. It’s important to notice that a delay or setback can have a different impact and carries a risk level according to the category it belongs to.
An activity level delay could be something as simple as a task lasting a couple of days longer than anticipated, however, if an entire phase is being delayed, that could dangerously become an overall project delay level type of setback, which you definitely want to avoid at all costs.
Why Does A Project Schedule Delay Happen?
A schedule delay is one of the biggest issues a project manager can encounter during the life of a project, as they can seriously hurt not only the project schedule, but also your team members and your whole organization.
Sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint what caused a setback, but we can go ahead and do a rundown of some of the most common reasons reported for project schedule delays, so you can learn more about them.
Reasons Why Your Project Is Being Delayed: Inadequate Scope Management
Scope Management is everything when it comes to being on the same page as your customer. If there are requirements that your team doesn’t know about, it will surely lead to misunderstandings and delays in your project’s future. Avoid all of that by making sure your scope is as clear as it can be.
But how can you make sure of that, and what are the consequences of inadequate scope management? Well, let’s make an example to try and understand it better.
One sure way to inadequate scope management can actually be started by your customer. If your customer doesn’t express their needs and expectations for the project clearly, and your team doesn’t investigate and ask the right questions, the project could get started on shaky grounds and this would only lead to potentially creating something very different from what the customer had in mind but failed to express.
This could lead to the customer communicating their requirements way too late into the life of the project and causing the team to rework the goals and make the appropriate changes, thus forcing delays.
The same result could be achieved even if your customer clearly shares their ideas and expectations from the start, but your team doesn’t pay attention to it, or misunderstands them and never tries to clear things up.
Both of these situations would lead to some pretty ineffective scope management that would become the cause of your project being delayed. This proves how important it is for project managers and all team members to confirm all of the information they have about the customer and the expectations for the project, so everyone is on the same page and understands it with 100% clarity. Having a clear scope will make everyone’s job much easier and will drastically reduce project delays as everyone has this document to all back on and use as their own personal tracking system.
Reasons Why Your Project Is Being Delayed: Impossible Activity Assessment
The next step after you’ve successfully defined your project scope is to evaluate all project activities. If the expectations for the project activities are not realistic, this will lead to your team chasing around goals that they won’t be able to achieve. The more time they spend trying to meet impossible activity assessments, the more delays your project will have.
Imagine what would happen if you planned an activity to last for 7 days, but it actually took double that time. Not only would the project be delayed by a whole week, but each activity after that one would suffer the consequences and would not meet its specific deadline.
If you want to accurately calculate your project schedule, the scope needs to be clear otherwise you will not get it right, no matter how proficiently you create it. Once an activity begins, you will need to make adjustments to your scope if they start to run late. If one or more activities deviate from your plan, you’ll find yourself in trouble.
All project managers should be aware of how qualified and productive their resources and team members are to estimate the pace at which the activities will be completed. The project manager should also understand how the availability of equipment and material that will be used works, since using this information can help them make a more precise guess. Never settle for assumptions, always try to find the details you need.
When you have experience with a similar project it gives you the opportunity to go through all the things that went wrong last time while planning your new project, and implement the ones that helped you succeed, but if you haven’t been involved in any project like it before, you can find estimation techniques and tips all over the internet and on the Project Management Body of Knowledge guide that will spare you from making your estimations based on assumptions and keep them grounded in reality.
Reasons Why Your Project Is Being Delayed: Poor Risk Management
The moment you take on a project, you’re already taking a risk. There are several things that can put your project at risk, not only as a whole, but also for each individual activity. If something unexpected happens and you aren’t prepared for it and have no plan to work through it and correct it, this will cause project delays. The delay will depend entirely on the severity of each risk, so it could be very minor, or big enough to make an impact.
The poorer your risk management is, the more of a negative impact those defined risks will create when it comes to your project components, schedule, budget, and scope. Looking at all of the possibilities and scenarios can help you assess everything that could go wrong and create delays in your project, which will be useful when you want to create a solid risk control plan.
After you become aware of the risks, now it becomes easier to evaluate how probable it is that they will occur, and the effect they can have on your project. Even if you understand the risks, not knowing how big of an impact they can make will only make your plans for it less effective.
Using Reserve Management And How To Manage Project Delays
There are lots of techniques that can help you overcome delays in your project, one of them being reserve management. If project managers don’t take advantage of reserve management, the odds of project delays occurring is significantly larger.
If you anticipate a risk and feel confident that it will create a project delay, you should include a contingency reserve in your project activities. You can use the emergency reserve at any moment without obtaining permission because, for the most part, it already has been approved. If required, prolonging the activity inside this reserved time will not be a bad idea. You can even include the reserve in project stages or the full project if desired. As a result, if a risk arises, you will use the pre-planned contingency time to keep the project on track.
Risks will arise if you forgo risk management, and you will be unable to effectively manage them. If you would like to prevent project schedule delays, proper and continual risk management is critical. It will assist you in not just reaching project timelines but also staying within budget.
Reasons Why Your Project Is Being Delayed: Unqualified Aid
It is critical to assign competent resources to project operations. What happens if you put a junior team member in charge of a task that asks for seniority? The activity will obviously take longer to finish. As a result, project schedule delays will occur.
It’s possible that assigning an inept resource will save money. However, because of them, your project operations may be delayed. A resource that is unable to do a specific task may take longer than planned to complete the task. Or they may lack the necessary abilities to create the products as you want, necessitating rework. We understand that a project can have a large number of actions, so you can guess exactly how much of an impact it can have collectively if there are many incompetent resources behind those activities. They are not only able to carry out activities, but they would even concentrate on meeting project objectives. To obtain the finest results, they also try to work faster, avoid waste, and utilize their creativity.
As a result, project managers should thoroughly examine the project’s technical and non-technical objectives. Make sure to delegate competent resources to complete the task. To optimize project management effectiveness, the Project Manager Officer overseeing the PMO should foster collaboration, information sharing, and a leadership atmosphere.
Reasons Why Your Project Is Being Delayed: Gold Plating
The term “gold plating” is used in project management. In a nutshell, it means doing far more work than required. Project resources may continue to put in additional functions or services in some circumstances. Or they strive to perform more even though the overall activity for a certain task has ended. This can cause delays in the project timetable. Achieving a stated scope inside a stated schedule and budget is the goal of project management. Not by exceeding the agreed-upon scope.
Customers may benefit from gold plating because they will receive additional items for free. Nevertheless, the project might be more expensive. Customers dislike getting extra features in certain circumstances. As a result, they might not appreciate your additional effort.
The project team will gold plate with noble intentions, which are clearly intended to pleasure the buyer even more. Additionally, project managers may include additional features in order to gain credit. They may also want it completed to distract customers from problems or demonstrate their team’s capabilities. It may, however, go wrong. You will encounter project delays for either situation, even if the customer prefers gold-plated results or not. In addition, the job will cost extra.
Start Reducing Project Schedule Delays With These Tips
Check out these five basic practices you can use to start reducing project delays. Let’s get into each of them and explain why they work.
Make Sure Your Project Scope Is Precise
When the scope is unclear, there could be discrepancies among what you produced and with what your customer intended. Redoing activities will cause delays in the project timeline if there are inconsistencies. As a result, in order to clarify the scope, we must first ask all of the questions we can think of to the customer any time we interact with them.
Obtain as much information as possible until you feel like you have grasped your customer’s needs and they acknowledge it as well. Don’t rely on your preconceptions! The following stage is to establish a precise project scope. Acceptance criteria, limitations, omissions, and the specifics of the required deliverables are all included in the scope. It also offers a description of the activities that will be necessary to complete the specified deliverables. As a result, it’s critical to define an ideal scope that’s also obvious, clear, and comprehensive. It not only assists you in staying on track, but it also aids in the smooth running of the project.
Attain Skilled Resources
Skilled resources will generate accurate estimates and finish activities as quickly as possible. Qualified resources will concentrate on project objectives and ensure that they are met. Not only will they be more efficient and resilient in the face of adversity, but also more resourceful and quick to solve challenges. Additionally, they would also be able to work through the plans if they had some fundamental project management skills.
As a result, having qualified resources will assist in finishing the project and being able to meet the deadlines and avoiding roadblocks. In conclusion, the project managers need to determine the level of skill expected for each project activity and optimize resources according to that information.
Adequate Change Management
To deal with change requests in a constant, quantifiable, and systematic manner, successful change management is required. For change management to become effective, your business must have documentation that describes this process and workflow. Additionally, the project manager shall ensure that all change requests are properly managed.
You need to manage every future demand using change management once you have established the scope. Changes are frequently required throughout project implementation and they can be requested by anybody, including assets, the project manager, any sponsors, or the client. Change requests must be evaluated by the project manager as well as other related authorities. They should assess the impact of the modifications and comprehend what will happen if they are not implemented. Any modification that you haven’t thoroughly evaluated and that isn’t advantageous should not be approved. If you approve the change, it will take up unnecessary project time thus causing schedule delays.
The project manager should notify any sponsors as well as the customer after assessing each change request. They shall explain how the adjustment would impact the project’s cost and timeline. Before authorizing their team members to start working on the adjustment, they should also get consent from the customer and any and all sponsors. If appropriate change management isn’t in effect, the project might run into numerous issues. There could also be multiple scheduling delays.
Adapt For Any Risks’ Impact
The moment a risk is introduced into a project, it has two direct consequences. It will necessitate a budget as well as time to lessen the impact. As a result, risk management should guarantee that schedule reserves are in place for any potential threats to the project timeline.
The project manager should establish the adequate amount of reserves to add to the project timeline right at the start of the planning phase. The required reserves should be determined by a comprehensive risk analysis rather than guesses. In the case that a risk occurs during the implementation stage and an action is delayed, just the buffer would be used. Time spent beyond the buffer will cause the project to be delayed, so it must be prevented.
Create A Baseline For Your Timeline And Perform Assessments
After you’ve created project schedule benchmarks, you’ll be able to compare tangible progress to the anticipated timeline. Examine the project schedule to see whether you have been meeting your deadlines or are currently behind schedule. Examine the progress data as well.
If you detect a delay while contrasting the timetable to the real progress of the project, you need to take immediate action. You should also intervene quickly if the project has spent some of the buffers already. You need to take action to avoid more delays and to get the project back on course. As a result, the project manager must be familiar with numerous project management approaches in order to resolve the project’s delay.
Whenever delays happen the project manager can allocate a few more resources to the pending job. Alternatively, ask current resources to work extra hours to complete the task sooner. They might also shorten the time among activities or have them begin simultaneously. They might even clock in some weekends to give the project more time. They could also condense the timetable by shortening the duration of certain tasks. But what if you already tried everything and still couldn’t get the timetable compressed enough?
In that case, you could even delete some tasks from the project. You might discover that some tasks aren’t as necessary as you once thought and the project can still be finished without them.
If a project’s timetable is delayed, the project manager must figure out the best way to minimize the impact of the disruption. During the initial evaluation, you may discover that no alternative for removing the delay is now appropriate. In this instance, you might ask management for permission to use the reserve. However, this should be used as the very last option to resolve project schedule problems.
Here’s What We Learned About Schedule Delays
Customers, advisors, and subcontractors all suffer as a result of project delays. They could lose faith in you, and when it comes to future partnerships and business success, they won’t be able to trust you again. Not only that, but project resources might suffer from low morale if that happens. They will end up believing that pouring all of their work into a project that is in peril is not a good use of their time and won’t be worth it. If they already feel that way, they won’t bother focusing on it because the project is going to crash any time soon anyhow.
If a project delay happens once, it may be tolerable, but when numerous projects are postponed, the implications are unacceptable or irrevocable. As a result, it is primarily the project manager’s obligation to endeavor to prevent project schedule delays. If these can’t be prevented, the consequences must at minimum be minimized. In order for the project manager to achieve that, they must have good reserve management and skilled resources working on the project, and their activity assessment must be accurate, so appropriate risk management can be in operation.