To help you do just that, we’ve put together a quick guide on some of the best ways to handle project delays.
1) AnticipationThe best way to handle project delays is to see them coming before they actually do happen, tackling the cause and avoiding interruptions. Although this is sadly easier said than done, you can still anticipate “expected” delays and do something about them at the planning stage.
If you're looking for some tips on how to anticipate or prevent these issues, the CIO blog has some specific examples.
2) Catch them earlyWhen it comes to unexpected delays, there’s not much you can do. You can’t know there’s a delay unless it actually happens. What you can do, however, is monitor the progress of your project and keep in touch with your team so that you can be notified instantly in case there’s a delay.
What will get the project back on course is paying attention and taking quick action. This way, you can still aim to deliver the project close to the scheduled deadline. Catching the delay early on is far better than knowing about it after it has run its course, in which case there’s very little you can do.
3) Notify stakeholdersAlways make sure to notify the project stakeholders of the delay. Being honest and keeping them in the loop will give them confidence in your abilities. Update them about the delay and the revised completion date so they can plan things accordingly.
4) Call for a meetingOnce you know there is a delay, call for an emergency team meeting. Involve your project team, all the stakeholders, vendors, customers, and any technical experts if needed. Inform them about the delay, and provide them additional details. Ask for their input and ideas on getting the project back on schedule, then map out a plan of action.
And, if you need some tips on how to run an effective project meeting, Project Smart shared some great tips on their blog.
5) Gather the right resourcesIf you’ll need additional resources, make sure to ask. You will need all the resources you can get in order to get the project back on track, so don’t be shy to ask for help.
If you need to hire additional staff to keep to your deadline, evaluate both the costs and benefits of this step. Perhaps you need an assistant to help with the paperwork so your core team can focus all their energies on things only they can do. If you believe it will help you bring the project on course, and the additional staffing may help save huge costs, go for it.
6) PrioritiseEvaluate all the tasks and milestones that still need to be completed, and move the most urgent ones to the top of your priority list. This way, any tasks that are dependent on the crucial tasks that are left incomplete won’t suffer.
7) Record changesWhen there’s a delay, you may have to steer away from the originally planned schedule. If you decide to make changes to the initial plan, don’t forget to record these. Create a change control plan and list all the changes you propose.
Use this plan to review, approve and implement all the proposed changes. This documentation will help you compare the progress of your new plan with the initial plan, and see all the steps you took to bring your project on course.
Can you think of any other ways to handle project delays? As always, let us know in the comments!