The on-deck project. It’s there, waiting in the wings, ready to go as soon as your team wraps up its current efforts. You and your stakeholders are probably excited to get going on it. It may be a garden-variety project, or it could be a one-time, strategically important initiative that will catapult the company forward. Either way, if its start date hinges on completing other tasks, it’s in a precarious position, because if something—anything—goes wrong with your present schedule, that on-deck project will almost surely be bumped.
One common problem organizations encounter is the existence of multiple concurrent plans for a single project. Between the various cross-functional groups, from accounting to engineering to HR, you may discover there are too many schedules in use. With all these timetables floating around, how can you trust any of the resulting progress estimates? The true status of each activity soon becomes a big question mark. Sound familiar? It’s the “many truths” problem and it could doom your project to failure.
Many projects involve sensitive information. Sometimes organizations are changing how they will compete in the marketplace—a project to retool a manufacturing line, for example. If that data was leaked externally before the project was complete, it could compromise the company’s position. Other initiatives involve staffing changes, such as when operations are relocated from one facility to another. Projects that impact employees often contain data that should be shielded from internal disclosure until the appropriate time.
Unfortunately, the need to protect sensitive information can sometimes hinder a project’s forward momentum. For executives and project managers trying to navigate these waters, knowing what to do when the need to maintain confidentiality threatens a project’s progress is crucial if they want to drive their initiatives to a successful completion.
Identify who already has access to sensitive data. One sure way to derail forward movement on an important project is to curtail information sharing unnecessarily. Because some people, either internal or external, probably already possess a subset of the confidential data your team is using, you can avoid some of the most common problems by knowing who has approval to access sensitive information. That knowledge will enable you to keep communications flowing without risking an unauthorized disclosure.
With numerous stakeholders to support and ambitious corporate goals to achieve, project teams sometimes fall into the trap of over-committing themselves as they try to make everyone happy. Some agree to aggressive schedules in hopes they can shave time off along the way. Others begin projects with a too-lean budget expecting they will somehow keep expenditures below normal levels. In each case, the team usually ends up looking bad in the end, as the project’s target completion date encounters delays and requests for additional funds pile up.
Is your organization launching a new facility? Whether it represents an expansion of existing operations, a relocation from a previous site, or an entirely new function for the company, there are a number of risks around material procurement that must be identified and properly addressed before your facility startup project can deliver the expected results.
Scope creep is a problem that plagues projects across the spectrum. Small or large, simple or complex, a project’s success can be threatened by stakeholders eager to add just one more activity to the list. If the team doesn’t know how to keep those parameters in check—or if they don’t have the tools to know when the approved scope is in jeopardy—they’ll have difficulty resisting requests to take on more than the project’s budget and target timeline can support. Failure often follows, as the Project Team’s resources are expended early and the schedule falls apart.
Fortunately, there are some strategies organizations can implement to help maintain order and eliminate ballooning project boundaries. These approaches will also aid in avoiding the related schedule delays and cost overruns, not to mention the strain on team members’ workloads.
Has your project team ever overcommitted itself? It’s a surprisingly common problem. There are many ways a team can overcommit. Some promise to achieve too much. Others promise to deliver reasonable results on an unrealistic schedule. It’s also possible that a Project Team consistently meets expectations and sticks to the agreed-upon project timeframe, but at costs that exceed the approved budget parameters.
In the early phases of project planning, there are many things the Project Team doesn’t know. But as the process gets underway, the team needs to make it their mission to ensure they get the information they need to understand where risks exist, to determine the most efficient and effective scope and timeline, and to make the best decisions as they move forward. If the data being used by the Project Team is incomplete or inaccurate, the project could go over budget or even fail to achieve its goals.
Information is one of the core pillars underpinning every successful project. With the evolution of technology and more compute power available than ever before, there’s little reason centers of excellence should continue to rely on data that may be days or even weeks old when it comes to identifying potential issues, forecasting activity schedules, making strategic decisions, and pouncing on opportunities in the marketplace.