Such factors may include:
- A lack of focus from the project team
- Scope creep
- Poor understanding of the initial project plan
- Wrong skill sets allocated to the project
- Departing staff
Here are some suggestions on what to do when you start losing control of your projects. These suggestions are things that should be considered before commencing future projects, in order to improve project governance.
Take a Step Back and Re-Assess
As a project manager, you should first take a step back and assess the current situation as a whole. See where the problems lie – are there gaps in resources, critical paths, or schedules? Once you have a clearer picture you can develop a plan that has the best chance of turning the project around.
Establish the End Goal
The end goal or vision may have gotten lost over the course of the project so it is important to re-affirm it with everyone involved.
Check Your Dependencies
If you find that your project is stepping over your deadlines set, it would be worth noting where your dependencies are. You may find that your schedule is being lengthened by invalid dependencies. Check everything first before you start to put measures in place so that you can get your project back on track.
Are the right people working on the right projects? At the beginning of the project planning phase, you will put your resources where you feel they will work well. However, this may all change once the project takes off. Therefore it may be worth making some changes to how your resources are allocated.
At times it might be as simple as swapping people from one activity to another. In other situations, you may be required to remove a resource from the mix and replace them with a person who has the skills to accomplish the goal.
Schedules can snowball, from a small delay at the beginning of the project, into a delay that has the potential to throw a project completely off target. To help combat this it would be worth creating milestones (a mid-term goal within a project).
Ideally, you should keep close to the deadlines of the milestones rather than taking time from the proceeding one. By setting these short terms goals you are setting urgency in the right place, instead of having one mad dash to complete everything before the project deadline.
Some tasks will take longer to complete so to ensure you have better control of them at the time. It may be worth breaking them down into sub-tasks. By setting these short-term tasks you are keeping the project team focused and motivated into getting things done.
Don’t Change the Scope
Scope creep can cause huge problems within a project. If you are finding that your project is slipping from your grip, adding work that hadn’t been in the original plan is just going to add to the problem. As the project manager, you should ensure that no unplanned work commences. All resources should be working on pre-planned tasks.
Use Proper Measures
When measuring project progress it is important to use proper values. By using percentages you are providing an unrealistic insight into the project. It is best to use an estimate (in terms of hours) as it gives actual timings to completing goals.
Unforeseen factors can cause huge problems for projects, however, it is the way in which they are dealt with that determines how hard they hit the project. By keeping good control of your projects and being aware of any impending slippages you can determine the best actions to undertake to ensure you get back on track.
The Cora solution is designed to allow for any organization’s project and program management processes to be managed easily and to make project governance easier to establish. Find out more at corasystems.com/ppm