Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

4 Reasons for Missed Project Deadlines and How to Get Back on Track - Part 1

~ By Brad Egeland

Man pointing at an alarm clock he's holding

Have you ever managed the perfect project? One where you've not missed one single deadline along the way? How about a project that went through its entire lifecycle without moving a milestone or sliding a few tasks or phases here and there?

Not likely.

The concept of being able to deliver everything – and I mean everything – on time on any given project is fairly fictional. Sometimes we manage projects with several hundred – or even several thousand – tasks.

Staying exactly on track is almost never in the cards.

So many things are out of our control. There are always dates that have to be pushed for one reason or another-though they may not have any significant impact on the final solution implementation date.

What about critical project dates and deadlines? Most projects experience one or more delays that impact the project – dates and deadlines that will raise some sort of a red flag with some or all stakeholders.

Those are the ones we worry or care the most about. I'll lay out four scenarios that often cause missed project deadlines and possible ways to work around those issues and keep or get the project back on track.

From my experience, when missed task deadlines start to become a real problem, it is often due to one or more of these reasons. I'll detail the first two below.

Different People Skills Are Needed Than What You Have Available Right Now

Perhaps the people assigned to the project are lacking some key skills. Meet with the individuals that are responsible for the slipping tasks. See where they stand on this:

  • Do they need help?
  • Do they need different tools to complete their work?
  • Do you need to bring in a different key person?

You may need to go to their direct supervisor to get the full answer. But you must take swift action.

If you need to replace people, then the budget will likely take a hit as the new people get up to speed. Ensure you make the appropriate adjustments to the budget forecast.

Unreasonable Deadlines Have Been Forced Upon the Project for Whatever Reason

The project schedule was probably drafted by sales or an account manager. Then it was handed off to the project manager. It was then moulded into the very detailed schedule that the project is now being managed against.

There may have been some unreasonable deadlines that either were overlooked or just not changeable. The project manager and team knew they were unreasonable. The deadline, however, was mandated by something beyond their control – possibly the customer, an industry requirement, or senior management.

Sometimes change orders, pressure from above, or misunderstood requirements leave you with a project schedule that's no longer doable. If it's not adjusted, then it's going to move further and further off track.

Talk to your project sponsor about increasing the people that are available for the project. Adding new individuals will increase the cost, but will help you hit the deadline specified. Again, ensure you make the appropriate adjustments to the budget forecast.

These are just two of the limitless reasons projects get off track. I realise there are hundreds upon hundreds of specific reasons. But I have to limit my list to some main – and fairly resource-related – reasons to not let this become a twenty-part novel.

In Part 2 of this two-part series, we will look at two more "main" reasons project deadlines are often missed.


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
How many letters are in the word two?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Risk Management Options

Risk management written on a puzzle piece

Risk management is an ongoing process to identify potential problems that could arise when new projects occur within a business.

Four Steps to Project Time Management

Man pointing at an alarm clock

The four steps outlined in this article will help you better define and measure the activities that make up your project timeline.

How to Get the Most From Your Project Team

Project team in a huddle

Project management is people management. Here's our reminder of how to make sure you get the most from your project team.

Top 10 Steps to Successful Goals

Businessman sprinter winning a track race

Help avoid the great 'Rinse and Repeat Trap' by following these 10 steps to setting successful goals. You may have to work for it, however!

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Aimee Windmiller-Wood commented on…
Top 10 Qualities of a Project Manager
- Thu 23 February 5:06am

Liam commented on…
High Anxiety: Managing Projects With Your Pants Down
- Fri 17 February 9:27pm

Daniela commented on…
Better Coaching Using the GROW Model
- Thu 2 February 3:21pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Help With My Project Management Dissertation https://t.co/EoVJgBqYum #projectsmart #pmot about 4 days ago

General Project Management • Prince2 Advice https://t.co/pP7mAnGTJP #projectsmart #pmot about 5 days ago

General Project Management • Re: Interview Help 30-60-90 Plan https://t.co/BNA7TTqz1I #projectsmart #pmot about 5 days ago