Project Management - Preventing Project Slips

Can Project Managers prevent projects from slipping?

Ask a techie to come up with a schedule for a specific list of activities, and more often than not, he/she will present a fairly accurate estimate. Some activities might be underestimated, others overestimated, but overall, the plan will be fairly accurate.

However, something happens to these estimates between the time the techie writes them down and the time the Project Manager publishes a baseline project schedule. That "something" is why projects slip.

Projects tend to slip for two reasons. Either Project Managers don't account for derivative activities such as vacation days when planning the overall project schedule, or they simply succumb to the pressure from management to compress the schedule.

The case surrounding derivative activities is well documented here or on The Project Mangler (www.projectmangler.com), so I won't spend any more time on it. The case surrounding management pressure is not.

Management Pressure

Assuming your techies have estimated each task and that you've considered derivative activities, your project schedule should be accurate. Aggressive, but realistic.

Now, present this schedule to the management team, and 8 times out of 10, the feedback you'll get is "that's too late". Eight times out of ten, you'll be asked to revise the schedule and shorten it.

Project Managers are all too familiar with the project triangle. We know we can shorten a schedule by either (a) reducing the scope of the project, or (b) adding more resources to it. Unfortunately, management either hasn't seen that triangle or, more likely than not, simply chooses to ignore it.

Consequently, Project Manglers who are more interested in pleasing upper management than keeping honest have come up with their own universal algorithm for shortening project schedules. Take the number of days that need to be cut from the schedule, divide it by the number of major milestones, and then deduct that number from the duration of each milestone. In other words, if a project comprising of 4 major milestones is estimated to last 6 months, but you need to reduce it by one month, you'd take 20 days, and divide it by 4. Take the answer (5), and deduct it from the duration of each milestone. And voila! Works every time.

And at the end of the project, either your techies save the day (by working evenings or weekends) or the project slips.

Conclusion

Can Project Managers prevent projects from slipping? Absolutely. Just stop publishing overly optimistic schedules.

1. Get your techies to help estimate the duration of each development task.

2. Add time to the overall project schedule to account for derivative activities.

3. Don't succumb to pressure from management

And last but not least?

4. Stick to the basic principles behind the project management triangle. In other words, don't be a Project Mangler.

Luc K. Richard is the founder and editor of The Project Mangler, a Web site dedicated to turning techies into managers. He invites you to visit http://www.projectmangler.com to download articles, project management tools, templates and checklists.

Change and Performance - Training May Not Be The Answer

Introducing new products or services, bringing new people on board, developing a new process or... Read More

Too Much Time Treating Symptoms

A man drives down the highway each day on his way to work. On Monday... Read More

No Time to Focus on the Big Picture? Try Focus Management

E-mail, voicemail, "got a minute?" interruptions, multiple projects and competing priorities. Whether it... Read More

How To Learn Great Management from Our Kids

Learning comes from many places. And one of the most wondrous opportunities is right in... Read More

Is A Bad Attitude Permanent

Today there is great weight put on a person's attitude. It is as if this... Read More

Million Dollar Support System For You and For Your Business

Whether you are a consultant, coach, business owner, doctor, professional, corporate elite or student, whatever... Read More

Structure Your Payment Offers to Sell More Products

The way you structure your payment offers can increase your sales. I'm not talking about... Read More

Allan Kempert Discovers That Truly All You Gotta Do Is Ask

A year or so ago, I met Allan Kempert. Allan was the Quality Assurance Supervisor... Read More

Computer Consulting Profit Secrets

Do you own or manage a computer consulting company? Are you having trouble growing your... Read More

Procrastination and JDI!

In a management role procrastination can seriously hold back progress and demotivate individuals and teams... Read More

An Original Perspective on Waging Conflict as a Way to Promote and Restore Self-dignity

Conflict is a fact of life for all of us, but too many painful consequences... Read More

Are You Using the Right Form of Energy?

As we near the end of summer, here is a question I have for you,... Read More

Leadership Skills

Recent studies have shown that industrial supervisors are working at less than 60% of their... Read More

Birds of a Feather May Be Turkeys

Birds of a Feather May Be TurkeysBy Gene Griessman, PhD Birds of a feather... Read More

Finding Common Ground Through Consensus Decision-Making

It's clear to me that a workplace is a better place when employees truly work... Read More

Creativity and Innovation Management ? Motivation and Management Layers

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined... Read More

Shrinkage Control

What has been your store's shrinkage experience for the last two years? What will it... Read More

Creativity and Innovation Management: Goal Setting

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined... Read More

Don?t Forget Where You Came from - Why the Past is Important in Implementing Business Change

Much of the literature and advice on implementing business change focuses on... Read More

The Key to Successful Performance Objectives

Have you ever tried to drive somewhere without proper directions? This almost always turns out... Read More

Appraisal Interviews: What To Say & How To Say It

STEPS TOWARDS A GOOD APPRAISAL INTERVIEW:Don't say: "You just don't seem to care about doing... Read More

5 Interviewing Mistakes That Can Lead To Hiring The Wrong Person

Mistake #1: Going with the flowInexperienced interviewers sometimes fall into the trap of letting the... Read More

Manufacturing Capacity as a Commodity

Excess capacity in an automobile plant at Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, GM, and Honda is a... Read More

The Fairness of Office Politics... Integrity and Political Motivation!

I hear many complaints daily about the "unfairness" of politics in corporate America. Employees say... Read More

Why Your Business Needs an E-Mail Policy

Why is it imperative to have a company E-Mail Policy? It is simply good business,... Read More

Eight Skills of Highly Successful Consultants

With deference to Dr. Covey and his very popular Seven Habits of Highly Effective People... Read More

Employee Orientation: The 90 Day Difference

Why do some new managers succeed while others fail? It all depends on the first... Read More

Quick Tip - Effective Meetings Have SMART Goals

The first step in planning an agenda is to identify the goals for the meeting.... Read More

Business Innovation ? Ignoring Content

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined... Read More

5 Creative Evolutionary Leadership Niche Strategies!

I have a short story to share with you about an important skill many leaders... Read More

Assertive Communication - 6 Tips For Effective Use

What IS assertive communication? Assertive communication is the ability to express positive and... Read More

Business Innovation ? Core Competency and Competitive Advantage

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined... Read More

Christmas and Business Gifts for Your Clients and Employees!

Tis' the season for business and corporate gift-giving! If you believe in the law of... Read More

Problem-Solving Success Tip: Use Your Project Management Skills

Solving a big problem is a project: you're far more likely to solve it successfully... Read More

Improvements In A Large Public Electric Utility In South America

The company decided to develop and implement an improvement program. The main thrust was to... Read More

The ?Better Product? fallacy

Another fallacy ingrained in the minds of most marketing managers is the belief that... Read More

The 5 Obsessions of a Passionate Employee

A recent report entitled "How Google Grows?and Grows?and Grows" stated that the 650 people that... Read More

This Old Business

Not long ago I was asked to come out and take a look at a... Read More

Quality Staffing: Stop Placing the Wrong People in the Wrong Jobs

You can possibly teach a turkey to climb a tree ? but it is a... Read More

When Politics Prevent Innovation - Or? Still Fighting Battles and Losing Wars

The objective is to beat the competition and make money. Everything a business organization does... Read More

Why Good Enough... Isnt

About a year ago, I had an opportunity to have dinner with the CEO of... Read More

Dont Take New Hires for Granted

Hiring good people is only half the battle. The other half is keeping them, especially... Read More

You?re Hired, Now Go Home: Managing Workers at a Distance

Telecommuting or virtual work opens up a wider net of potential employees for businesses ?... Read More

How To Own A Business... Instead Of A Job

Every business is run by someone who took on a risk with their time and... Read More

Where Businesses Fall Short

1. No vision. Successful businesses have a clear vision or picture of their business purpose... Read More

5 Awesome Actions of Highly Creative Leaders!

How many times have you wondered why you are unable to "think-out-of-the-box" more often?We are... Read More

Using the Six-Sigma Methodology to Improve Wafer Fab Productivity

As a result of consolidation of operations and significantly increased production requirements, Intersil's main Fab... Read More

Coaching Employees in the Workplace

After a full week of training, you are still a little nervous about your new... Read More

Looking through the Glass Ceiling - Women in Management

Women have made tremendous contributions to society at every level; consider Joan of Arc, Golda... Read More

Travel the World - for Free!

I have been very fortunate to travel to several countries of the world while on... Read More