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What to do When IT Projects Lag Behind Schedule

There’s no stressful feeling than when your IT projects are not on a schedule. You have a lot riding on revenues from a product launch and the operational efficiency it will bring to your company, but instead, you’re stuck with more expenses and a bunch of glitches.

John Schmidt offers great advice on what to do When IT Projects Fall Behind Schedule in a previous post on Cerius Executives. Here are some excerpts from his article:

Warning signs to look out for

  • Your plans contain poor or incomplete requirements. Plans should be as detailed as possible as early as possible. If they’re not, you’re not ready to move to the next stage.
  • You’re relying too heavily on “New” or “Cool” technology.  Exciting new technologies also mean more unknowns and more risk.
  • Things are moving too smoothly too soon. Green status equals red flag.  Significant risks should be emerging early and often.
  • You’re leaving the hard problems to be solved later.  Early progress can be accomplished by focusing on the easier aspects of the project, creating a false sense of confidence.  Difficult aspects of the project should be confronted early while there is still reaction time.

How to avoid IT projects slipping schedule

  • Keep your cost and scope in check. Your IT team will be continuously making trade-offs with schedule, cost and scope.  If you’ve over-constrained the former expectations, the only place the IT projects team will have to maneuver is schedule.
  • Allow for mistakes. If your team believes you will tolerate no errors, they will naturally become extremely cautious—and caution means slower execution. By surfacing issues early and often, you get the opportunity to re-tune or re-visit constraints. A team that’s comfortable telling you they need an additional $10K early on in the project to solve a problem can save you from a $1M schedule impact down the road.
  • Don’t shoot the messenger. When you participate in status reviews, make sure you welcome and embrace any and all issues. If your team isn’t afraid to tell you what’s really happening, they won’t feel the need to sanitize status before it gets to you, thereby ensuring the problems stay hidden.

Get back on track

“Don’t lose sight: scheduling problems can be addressed at any stage of IT projects, even near the end (though the sooner addressed, the better!). Any stage of IT projects will benefit from some old-fashioned, executive decision-making to help things get unstuck and moving again.  It’s up to you as a leader to get involved and help make the tough decisions. “

 

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