keeping projects on trackProject management can be unpredictable; even the most well-thought-out scope and schedule can be thrown off kilter.  If your project has gone off the rails, the best thing you can do is stop to evaluate the core issues, and take action to get your project back on track.

Core Issue:  Incomplete or insufficient scope at the beginning of the project.

The Fix:  Scope creep can quickly turn estimated deadlines into totally arbitrary milestones.   Take back the reigns and re-evaluate the project plan.  Adjust the schedule to reflect informed, realistic deadlines.

Core Issue:  Your resources are stretched too thin.

The Fix:  Add resources to critical paths to speed things along.  However, because more resources cost more money, you’ll need approval from the customer.  Be prepared to present a revised project plan that demonstrates how you will use additional resources to meet the deadline.  You will also want to take into account the ramp up time necessary to get new team members up to speed before deciding on this approach.  Time lost to integrating new team members may throw your deadline off even more if the project is far along.

Core Issue:  Your senior resources are overloaded.

The Fix:  Shift responsibility.  Get junior resources more involved so that your experts can tackle project-critical initiatives.  Junior resources are also less costly, so it may be more feasible to add them to your project team if more elbow grease is required to lift your project off the ground.

Core Issue:  The project is not a priority.

The Fix:  When team members’ talents are being allocated in other directions, it’s time to really sell your project.  Make a case for the importance of your project to management.  Get buy-in from key stakeholders to dedicate team members solely to your project.

Finally, weigh quality against deadlines.  Of course your goal is always to deliver on time and under budget, but reducing the scope of the project and pushing resources beyond their limits often results in rejected deliverables and extra testing.  Missing a deadline might be more effective than cutting corners in the long run.

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