As hard as we all work to create and implement the perfect project plan, they can sometimes go off course. It is often said that it isn’t the problem, but how we handle it that matters. This is absolutely true when dealing with a project. It doesn’t matter if the project is internal or external (where customers are involved). When a problem arises, we need to react as quickly as possible to prevent any permanent damage.
The first thing is realizing the project is heading south. If you are following your project plan and having regular meetings, this will become evident as it is starting to happen. Once you realize there are issues, you need to identify the exact cause or causes. Often we look at the issue but don’t look further to find out what caused it.
For example, if you are not getting data that you requested from part of your team, you need to figure out why. Is it because the data is unavailable, or is it because the team doesn’t know exactly what the data is or how to obtain it? If the plan is external, is your customer having difficulty obtaining the data for you?
Once you know where your issues are, you need to pull that part of your team together so you can work through them. Tackling a problem head on is always better than ignoring it and assuming that it will work itself out.
During your discussion with the team you need to look at your deadline and find out how it will be affected. You may need to shift some of the tasks on your project around to accommodate a delay in a particular area. Bringing your team together to discuss what is going on and to regroup will allow you to carry on knowing that you have a deadline you can make.
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