Date: 24. Apr 2022.
Milica Milojkov

Project manager

The major causes of project delays

How does a bunch of delays creep up during any number of simultaneous projects? More often, these incidents happen due to the following common issues.

  • Sudden change in the project plan when the process is halfway through. The same logic applies to the project scope as well.
  • Unrealistic objectives and goals that set the stakeholders’ expectations too high.
  • Not having an efficient way of getting things done fast.
  • Sticking to outdated technology, especially in an Agile project management environment, where the sole objective is to run processes in a clutter-free manner.
  • Teams are slacking for whatever reasons.
  • Unforeseen circumstances.
  • Poor communication.

Project delays have a severe effect on the project financials. After all, resources are finite; no matter how abundant they are. That’s one of the stark realities of multi-project management these days.

Other than that, project delays cause a whole lot of issues that may impact the timeline when the milestones are nearly achieved.

1. Setting realistic and achievable goals

Not only does it matter for project managers to set realistic goals, but it is also equally important to devise deadlines that are centered around maximum achievability. The best way to deal with goal-related delays is by under-promising and overdelivering. It works all the time.

2. Daily standups vs. accountability issues

Daily standup meetings have an intimidating effect because everyone has to notify PMs on the achieved vs. deliverables theory. These meetings also eliminate any performance blockers and productivity issues that might be holding certain team members from performing at their best. Don’t forget to highlight what everyone has done so far, and whatever needs to be achieved for any given day.

3. Resource management 101

If a project manager has an estimate about resources running dry, he or she can mitigate any issues before they show up. Likewise, project costs can be adjusted by deprioritizing low-status activities until later. The rest is all about allocating resources to different aspects of the projects and creating a fallback plan, in case anything happens out of the blue, where not only the budget but also, the human element of the resources have to be reallocated.

4. Schedule carefully and schedule often

Although project schedules make up for all the activities that have to be followed; there are special cases where activities have to be moved around. Determine dependencies, high-priority tasks, and CPM-dependent workflow for a sequential approach to uninterrupted process management.

5. Performance measurement and time tracking

Data collection is important for future retrospectives as it eliminates any performance blockers. As far as the issue of managing timesheets is concerned, that is crucial for ensuring that everyone is putting in their hours. Data maintenance regarding ongoing projects is essential for ensuring task completion, quality of work, and budget requirements are met accordingly.

What to Do If Project Delays Happen Regardless?

Delays are inevitable. They are part of the game and serve to groom a project manager’s skills in the long run. Therefore, take adversity with a grain of salt and determine how to respond to delays categorically.

  • Hold an immediate team meeting and identify the reasons for delays. Avoid playing the blame game; whatever’s done is done. There’s no point in who caused the delay or how it occurred in the first place.
  • If the said delay is caused due to monetary concern, run it along the food chain. The sooner it is rectified by board members or any concerned authorities, the better it is.
  • Learn to de-escalate tasks if a crucial deadline-oriented process is suffering. While it is okay to complete project activities with dependencies, first, there’s no harm in deprioritizing those tasks for the greater good. If you are responsible for creating a given timeframe, task prioritization and reprioritization should be part of the plan from the beginning.
  • Never fail to admit to your fallacies. If you don't have a full grasp over how the latest technology or a particular tool works, go ahead and consult with your subordinates.