by experience, there are warning signs that a project may be going in
the wrong direction.
Below are some signs that indicate your project
may be in trouble.
I have found that these are not as obvious as time,
cost and quality delays but have been useful to me in foreseeing when a
project may be heading for problems
You spend your time fighting fires
Most project leaders engage in resolving problems when they arise,
but if you are spending time constantly battling problems and trying to
find solutions, it going to impact your project. It shifts your focus
away from the important tasks at hand.
As a project leader, it is important to maintain focus on the road
ahead so that you can anticipate problems. Not having to constantly
resolve issues is the key to getting ahead of any problems.
A productive way to for me to manage this is through constantly
reviewing and refining the Risk and Issues log. This way if any issues
do materialize they would have had visibility ahead of time and a
possible resolution or mitigation available.
Stakeholders always delayed in providing signoff
Do you find your stakeholders have to be constantly chased for
signoffs or approvals? This can be a sign that your stakeholders are not
as engaged in the project as they should be.
The easiest way to make sure stakeholders provide sign off on time is
by keeping them involved in the project throughout. The simplest way to
do this is via regular status updates or meetings.
Generally, most stakeholders do not like meetings so they might be
unlikely to show up. To resolve this, I normally reduce the length of
the meeting or reduce its frequency. I have found that by having
meetings at distributed intervals when sign offs will be required is the
easiest way to make sure stakeholders are prepared for what is coming
and what is expected from them.
Team members continuously billing longer hours to your project
Project teams will no doubt be required to spend longer hours during
key phases of the project. If you, as project leader, are noticing a
constant pattern of overtime hours being worked, it is time to question
why is this happening.
Is the team facing challenges that are too difficult for the skills
at hand? Are there distractions that are stopping the team from
completing the tasks within the agreed time? These may be signs that the
project is more demanding than previously expected and may result in
the team getting burnt out. I have found that when this starts to
happen, the best thing to do is to revisit the project plan or resource
plan and make sure what is forecasted is accurate. Any learnings from a
previous development should be integrated into the forecasting.
You spend more time attending change control meetings than you do stand-ups
Change is inevitable in a project, especially if the duration of a
project is considerable. If you find you have to attend change control
meetings frequently to put changes forward for acceptance to the change
control board, then it is time to put the brakes on the project to
review the cause of the changes and the effect on the project time,
resources, and budget.
I have found that in the past as stakeholders request more and more
changes, the best thing for me to do as the project leader is to slow
down the project and dedicate time and resources to reviewing the design
of the project to reduce any additional changes. It is never useful to
stop completely the phase the project is in unless absolutely necessary.
Completely stopping a project will only draw negative attention. It is
wiser to slow down and dedicate resources and time to re-evaluating the
reason for the changes.
As a project leader, it
is time to re-evaluate the project and direction it is heading when you
notice the above signs. Only then can you forecast and plan for
potential issues and consequences.
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