There are times when modernization initiatives are delayed for reasons outside the project team’s control. Unanticipated regulatory actions or a technology vendor’s surprise buyout announcement, for example, could bring your project’s timeline to a halt.
Managing the consequences of a delay can be difficult, but with so much digital transformation and technology innovation happening in the business environment today, it’s something project professionals are likely to encounter at some point.
If your modernization project is suddenly at a standstill, there are steps you can take right now to control the budget fallout, maintain your team’s productivity, and ensure ongoing resource optimization.
As quickly as you can, communicate with your team about the delay. You can’t always share the full details of what’s happening and why the overall strategic plan is shifting. However, you should still alert your group to the change in the project’s status and timing. This enables everyone to reassess their own workloads and understand if and where they may have bandwidth available to support other efforts. Be as transparent as possible about what you know and flag any other details that are still unknown.
Unless your project delay is only a few weeks long, it will probably make sense to reassign some or all of your team members to other efforts. This prevents people from standing around not knowing what to do. Evaluate where skills or resource gaps exist in other projects and shift individuals to those initiatives as appropriate. It’s important to maintain optimal utilization at the project level and your quick action will help each contributor maximize their own productivity.
If the digital transformation initiative is expected to return to active status in a relatively short timeframe, you might continue to move some of the project’s activities ahead. This positions the team to restart the delayed project more quickly and with less effort. Prioritize tasks you want to execute and let the individuals responsible for them know that they’re still on the schedule. This is especially valuable if you anticipate price increases in the near term or constraints on available talent or other resources. By capturing lower prices and greater resource availability now, you can maintain productivity and cost efficiency.
Review the rest of your portfolio and reevaluate the timelines and resource allocations for other projects. Perhaps you can leverage newly available team members or contractors to accelerate progress on other strategically important projects. Or you may discover you can reallocate the delayed project’s reserved time slots for activities such as beta testing and user focus groups to other efforts. Reaching key milestones sooner often enables flexibility to capture cost and time savings later in the project, so capitalize on these opportunities everywhere you can.
Look for opportunities to reduce spend. That often means cancelling provider contracts if the project doesn’t have a clear restart date. You may also be able to renegotiate vendor agreements that cover multiple projects and reduce your obligations to just those efforts that remain active. If internal team members suddenly have more availability, it might be possible to trim the level of external support needed by swapping expensive outside resources for in-house talent.
Remember that downtime can be its own useful asset. Make good use of the situation by encouraging team members to focus on training and upskilling. Digital transformation projects are sometimes so all-encompassing that you may not have many other efforts running concurrently. If that’s the case, and you aren’t able to immediately reassign everyone, then enhancing your team’s skills and expertise during this open window can help make them more effective and efficient in the long run.