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How To Deal With Project Setbacks
By Kathlika Thomas

Managing changes to project schedules is an adjustment that is often needed when project setbacks are faced or when your team experiences negative project progress. Is this issue simply a result of poor planning? What are the causes and what can be done about it?

True enough, project setbacks can be encountered as a result of inadequate preparation for upcoming project work. But even when you think everything is properly planned out, problems still arise. Here are a few tips to head off bumps in the road on your project.

Reduce Project Overload

Most intuitively, too much project work is sure to cause the very best project team to fumble their assignment. An overly aggressive project timeline leaves little room for realistic scheduling throughout planning, design, build, and testing and will increase problems encountered on a project exponentially as time passes. While it may seem the norm in certain industries, overworked resources are counter-productive at the end of the day and will only result in stress to your project’s critical path and increased recidivism. Remember to examine best- and worst-case scenarios when designing your project plan. Alleviating all slack on a timeline is not wise… think of it as your project’s built-in breathing room. It’s better to be under-budget than pressed for time come go-live.

Encourage Proactive Issue Resolution

This suggestion can truly be helpful to the health of your project. Incentivize your teammates to take ownership in the project’s overall success. What does that mean for them? Being on the lookout for issues in design or anticipating issues in build or test will enable them to help you as the project manager to effectively manage the overall project all the more. While some may frown upon project naysayers, no one should be afraid to voice reasonable concerns. After all, that’s what risk management is all about, and it will help to avoid underlying problems that may result in project setbacks.

Shore Up Communication Channels

How clear is your project’s communication plan? Are you often experiencing delays to your project timeline because resources were not properly informed about assignments they should have been addressing? If so, revisit your communication plan. This clear outline of how and when information should be shared is especially key on projects that have cross-departmental impacts. When a clear plan is laid out, you’ll find that less delay from lack of information will be encountered and your timeline will run more smoothly.

These are just a few suggestions on how to avoid common project setbacks. What setbacks do you most often encounter and how does your team face the challenge?

Kathlika Thomas has over a decade of business analysis and project management experience. She has roots at Accenture, one of the “Big Five” consulting firm and has managed numerous international projects. Kathlika has also developed a number of workshops and training programs related to business analysis, business intelligence and project management. You can read more from Kathlika at the IT Project Blog.

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