What to do when your project slips…
Step 1: Focus the team
A common trend is that in the middle of a project, the team start to feel like they are under pressure and they lose sight of the end goal. The excitement of “project startup” is long since past and any team politics have kicked in. It’s now that you need to recognize and reward staff for good performance. And it’s now that you need to focus the team by restating the objectives, providing incentives and boosting morale. You need to be their shining star when things get dark and gloomy.
Step 2: Prioritize
If there is simply too much to do in the timeframe you’ve been given, then prioritize all of your tasks. Identify the key deliverables that must be produced and then identify the tasks involved with producing them. It’s those tasks that you need to focus on now. Then get the priority list approved by your project sponsor, so that you have their buy in. Only with their acceptance, can you confirm that the tasks you’re working on, are the most important tasks required to deliver your solution.
Step 3: Reduce Scope
After you’ve focused the team and prioritized your work, then update your schedule. If you’re still likely to deliver late, then request approval from your Project Sponsor to leave the low priority tasks to after the project deadline. This will reduce the scope of your project. It will also boost your chances of delivering the high and medium priority tasks by the deadline date. Reducing scope is by far the best option to take, as the smaller the project scope, the lower the risk of project failure.
Step 4: Increase Resource
If your Project Sponsor will not extend the end date of the project or reduce the scope, then ask for more resource to help you complete it. With more resource (people, money, equipment and materials) you will be able to complete more tasks in parallel and boost your chances of success
Step 5: Communicate
Ok, so if you’ve tried all of the above and there is no hope—your project will be delivered late regardless of what you do. You then need to accept it and communicate this to as many project stakeholders as possible. Set their expectations as early as possible that you will be late. If they understand the reasons for late delivery and they know it’s coming, then it will be less of a shock when it happens. And if you are able to miraculously deliver it on time, then your team will be seen as hero’s!
Note: I found this document without the author information, all the credit to the original writer of this useful document.
My comment: I recommend to perform step number 4 (Increase the resources) before the step number 3 (Reduce the scope). However, in the construction projects to tell the client that you will reduce the scope because you cannot meet the project died lines won’t be acceptable solution. Alternatively, you can agree with the client to prioritize the project into 2 or more milestones. For example, rather than finishing the whole project you could recommend certain areas to be completed and perform soft opening. Then, the rest of the project.