Many of the project warning signs that it will end in disaster are vague. This is especially true if there is a lack of communication, particularly at the start of a project. If client proposals are vague, then the scope of the project will be vague. Maybe the client doesn’t completely know what they want, if so, then the timeline, milestones, and budget will all be out and failure is more likely.
Communication with the client is key to preventing a project disaster. Face -to face communication with the customer is ideal, but if the client isn’t in your locality try using skype as this will give you visual clues to their body language. Make a note of feedback from the client and always address updates with an email along with an agreement of any changes.
Moving timescales can result in project disasters. Check for scheduled delays, for example, a construction project which includes the laying of asphalt on a constructed road will be affected by adverse freezing weather, which unless planned for would result in project delay.
- Internally – Check your project teams, make sure that your experienced employees are working on activities which require skill, whereas junior staff should be supervised and trained before being allocated skilled work.
- Externally – Check that your resources are being used proficiently; that skilled laborers are assigned the correct tasks, match skills with task assignments.
- Re-allocate Staff – If your project is falling behind schedule, you can re-allocate staff in your project team or bring in new staff from existing projects to bolster project performance. Care should be taken if you bring in staff from existing projects as this could jeopardize their current work. If you have more than one project on the go then prioritize, work out which project can go on the back burner.
If there is confusion over deliverables, whether it’s a lack of understanding on your part or a lack of clarity on the part of the client, not understanding the deliverables is a bad omen for a project. Project warning signs related to deliverables are the worst thing to discover when you reach the point of delivery.
It’s vital to make sure that everyone involved in the project understands and agrees to the project deliverables from the outset. These should be tied down in the project contract, and if they’re not, it’s in your interests to ensure they are added in before you sign up. If the project is less formal, you still need to draw up a list of deliverables and get the client to agree (or change) these in writing before you start work. This is the only way to ensure that everyone involved knows exactly what they’re supposed to get or do.
Your budget is tied to your project scope, if your scope is incorrect from the start you won’t come in on budget. Long delays and waste from deliverables will all have an impact on your budget. You can try to renegotiate your budget with your client explaining your costly delays or you will have no option but to finish the project over budget.
Agile Project Management focuses on continuous improvement, incremental development, the flexibility of scope and team input – all of which can ensure that a project remains on track. Continuous improvement requires ongoing feedback: agile calls for this to be ‘practical’.
You can get this sort of feedback by creating a shared checklist that’s constantly updated. The checklist could ask for team feedback on the project so far, which aspects need work and which are going particularly well. It can also be used to confirm that required outcomes remain the same and whether any issues have arisen that might require alterations.
Agile means being flexible enough to respond to changing business situations, and altering deliverables and processes if the client or situation requires it.
To help address the project warning signs which will stop disasters; the first thing to clearly understand is the project scope and the deliverables. Also think about, where relevant, using agile project management where project teams are quality-focused, adaptable to change and reflect on how to become more effective throughout the project cycle.
Projects are built around motivated staff and client collaboration is continual throughout the project, where project feedback can be ensured. Good communication is key to a successful project. Identify any roadblocks to progress and agree on deliverables right from the start.