Sunday, August 12, 2012

How Late Can Your Project Be Before You Push The Panic Button?

In my previous post, I discussed this formula for success:

Success = Motivation + Knowledge + Commitment + Perseverance * Action.

Let's assume we are strongly motivated to bring in our project within budget and on schedule. The easiest way to achieve both goals is to just focus on bringing the project in on schedule.  If we can do that, then we will also come in within budget.

Make the commitment with your project team that your project is going to finish on schedule and then take the actions that will facilitate achieving that goal.

This raises a question - how late can a project be before you need to push the "panic button" and take dramatic and remedial action?  Let's say your project is one year in duration, and after the first month the project is a few days behind schedule.  Surely you can catch up.

As we know from experience, work on projects (like climbing mountains) never gets easier with time, only harder.  If you are a few days behind early in the project, then you are going to be weeks or even months late by the end of the project.

So my answer to the question is that your project should be "Not A Day Late".  As the sun sets each day, your project should be on schedule.

How can we possibly achieve this?  Here's one way.

Set the goal with your project team that every activity on the critical path of your project has to come in on schedule and if they find that they are going to miss a target, they need to notify you as early as possible, but no later than 3 pm of the day that the activity will be late.

At that point, this is what I recommend you do.  Immediately call an emergency meeting of the whole team and work out an action plan using all the resources and experience of your team to get that activity back on schedule by the end of the next day.

This may sound dramatic, and it is, but you will only need to do this two or three times, before the objective and importance of coming in on schedule will be very clear to your team and you will find the occurrence of missed targets becomes few and far between.   No-one wants to stay behind, whether for their late activity or for others, so you will find more attention is paid to anticipating issues and addressing them earlier, before they cause activities to be late.

Try this approach out on your project, and let us know how well it worked towards bringing the project in on schedule.

If you are interested in learning some good project management best practices and techniques for keeping your project on schedule and within budget, sign up for our recorded APM03 webinar "How To Keep Your Project On Schedule And Within Budget" at  Our next AlphaPM Project Management Webinar Program starts Tuesday September 4, so this webinar will also be available live at 12 noon EST on Tuesday September 18, 2012.

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