Back On Track

We Asked The Project Management Community: How Do You Get A Project Back On Schedule?


“It’s necessary to identify if the delay is on the critical path or not. If it’s not, I just closely monitor the area of delay. But if delayed work is on the critical path, I choose the appropriate schedule compression technique: fast-tracking (if cost is a consideration) or crashing (if quality assurance is the primary consideration). Then, it’s important to identify risks relative to the chosen technique and communicate the situation and solution to key stakeholders.”

—Fernando Remolina, PMP, senior project manager, Damen Shiprepair & Conversion, Willemstad, Curaçao


“First, I create a responsibility assignment matrix chart and stick it on the wall in a prominent place. Then I make sure everyone knows who is going to do what. This can be easier said than done and can take hours to determine—you need to collaborate and make sure that team members understand they are responsible and accountable for the work. In fact, I hand out pens and get individuals to write their names on the board against deliverables. This process can also help identify overworked team members and tasks that no one is working on. In the end, we put another workflow chart on the wall, and I ask team members to put their name next to the tasks they’ve committed to completing.”

—David McCreery, PMI-ACP, PMP, project manager, Althris, Dublin, Ireland


Share your strategies for dealing with unexpected delays on the PMI Project, Program and Portfolio Management LinkedIn Group.


“After determining what’s caused delays, move the conversation into what needs to happen to bring the project back on schedule. Develop an action item list with tasks that need to get done. Assign project team members to each item, and discuss and assign due dates for each item. To determine how your remediation plan is performing, establish a check-in date for the assigned action items. I usually set this date around when the second or third action items are due. If no progress is being made, then chances are you have not identified the root cause of the project delay.”



—Elizabeth Baker, PMP, president, Southeast Technologies Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA


“People like to point fingers when problems arise. I harness my communication skills and emotional intelligence to avoid the blame game and push past project obstacles. Whatever new tasks are assigned or changes are made to get the project back on track, it’s crucial to remind everyone that their contributions are noticed and appreciated. It might seem silly, but I bring everyone together and relay specifically, one-by-one, a positive attribute I admire about each team member. Normally I’m met with a laugh at first. But, in the end, I see people’s appreciation. I truly believe there’s greatness in everyone. And it’s important that project managers don’t lose sight of that when facing an obstacle.”

—Rachel Chandlee, electrical project engineer, Hypower Inc., Melbourne, Florida, USA


“You must be prepared to work long hours until you re-establish project delivery discipline. This might take a few weeks on a small project or several months on a large global initiative—whatever it takes to fix the channels of communication and re-establish effective roles and responsibilities. The early stage will be spent in meetings and one-on-one conversations with stakeholders. And evenings will be spent rereading project documentation, status reports, presentations, etc. By plowing through the project files, you will see important patterns and decision points in the project history that will allow you to forensically reconstruct where the project started to steer off course and how previous attempts to take corrective action might have failed.”

—Pamela Danner, PMP, systems development program manager, Elwyn, Media, Pennsylvania, USA


“Before we try to bring things back into shape, it is necessary to run a cause-and-effect diagram and do a cost-benefit analysis. Identifying the root cause is the most important step. A problem well-identified and defined has a better chance of meeting its solution.”

—Gopal Sahai, PMI-PBA, PMP, senior manager, strategy development, Motherson Sumi Systems Ltd., Noida, India

Preventing Failure

The most important factors responsible for the failure of strategic initiatives are:

img Lack of clearly defined and/or achievable milestones and objectives to measure progress
img Poor communication
img Lack of communication by senior management
img Employee resistance
img Insufficient funding

Source: Pulse of the Profession®: Success Rates Rise: Transforming the high cost of low performance, PMI, 2017



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