Project completion is a methodical process of completing set milestones while maintaining a balance of time-saving techniques. Unfortunately, project schedule overruns are a norm in virtually all industries – from construction to finance, healthcare and energy – it’s very rare to complete everything within its set budget and time.
Project delays occur due to poor execution from project managers who don’t pay attention to possible sources of schedule overruns early and mitigate their effect.
In this blog, we’ve narrowed down the 10 most solid ways of identifying that your project is probably at risk of cost and schedule overruns.
1. Lack of Thorough Project Planning
You simply can’t cut corners when it comes to project planning – this means making the right estimates and going right into the details. Thorough and methodical planning is the best way to stop cost overrun and complete all the steps right on schedule. The more accurate and thorough your estimates, the easier you will stay within the stipulated deadlines and budget. This isn’t to say that estimates aren’t without their risks, but those can be balanced with the use of an exhaustive risk management plan.
2. Not Knowing Who Your Vendors Are
Most projects will need outside help, whether it is for specialized assignments, supplies, or equipment. Your relationship with your vendor will play a huge role in how well you can complete your project. If the vendor decides that it’s okay to delay your order or considers you low priority, you’ll end up with frequent schedule overruns. Always do your background check to see if the vendor honors their deadlines and meets their obligations before you sign on the dotted line.
3. Too Many Changes in Project Scope
Project delivery management requires everyone to work according to plan. Yet when too many stakeholders ask for too many change requests, you risk throwing the project scope into a chaotic mess. Change requests may come from clients, employees, and board executives. Some of these changes are appropriate and should be entertained. However, entertaining too many will drastically impact your project.
4. You Don’t Use a Project Planning Tool
Planning tools like Gantt charts are central to project delivery methodology make your work easier, maximize productivity, and boost efficiency. They also assist in keeping you within the deadlines and keeping schedule overruns at a minimum. Make sure your team knows how to use something as simple as a Gantt chart to stay on top of everything.
5. Miscommunication between Stakeholders and Managers
There is a lack of communication between project managers and stakeholders which invites all kinds of delays. This results in cost overruns and may even lead to failure. However, once everyone is on the same page, you increase your likelihood of overcoming the odds and wistfully breezing your way to project completion. Project delivery management requires you to communicate the effectiveness of your program to your stakeholders to ensure the project goes as planned.
6. You’re Not Tracking Problems in Real-time
You’re unable to keep track of progress as it unfolds. But by then, small issues that threaten to take the project off-track and under-budget go undetected for too long. The real-time dashboard from Realization.com helps you with project tracking and measures the team’s workload with insightful data.
7. Poor Allocation of Resources
Many project managers are unable to reallocate resources efficiently, which leads to a project going over budget. However, you can prepare for this scenario by evaluating your resources beforehand, and allocating them where they’ll be most useful. This is definitely applies in the case of your team. You need an experienced and skilled team that can efficiently complete their assigned tasks without using too many resources.
It is worth pointing out that there is no one-size-fits-all rule for allocation of resources; it depends on project delivery types and your goals.
8. Unfeasible Cost Estimates
Accurate cost estimates play an important role in completing projects within the stipulated time. If the cost is calculated on the basis of a hunch, or by unqualified and inexperienced personnel, then the project will run into unnecessary delays. It may look good earlier on in the project but could bleed capital (and time) in the latter stages. You can avoid this by seeking help from subject matter professionals while making estimates of the cost of a project.
9. Underestimating Project complexity
Large projects are at a higher risk of overrunning their schedule because it requires more responsibility and working together like a well-oiled machine. The best way to avoid this issue is to plan extensively right from the get-go and leave little room for delays that may or may not occur at latter stages.
10. Lack of a Backup Plan
The main cause of schedule overruns is a lack of a backup plan. There is no such thing as a fool-proof plan and if you don’t have a Plan B, your team would crack at the first hint of failure and at this point it’s every man for himself. Backup plans ensure your team has something to work with when things go south, as long as they don’t deviate too much from the main plan. A good backup plan shares nearly the same milestones and objectives as the main plan but has a different way of completing them.
Even though schedule delays may seem inevitable in most projects, they can be minimized or outright eliminated by tactfully controlling and monitoring milestones. Make sure you can identify the 10 causes of overruns mentioned above and take corrective action as soon as possible is a prerequisite to success.