Below are four reasons that could contribute to a project being put on hold or lose steam:
•Lack of Interest in the Current Project – In the beginning, your project was the next best thing. It was the shiny new toy. It was the bee’s knees. We could keep going, but you get the point. Everyone’s attention was focused on the game-changer of a project that was going to turn the company around or bring in millions of dollars annually in recurring revenue.
As time passed, the initial shine wore off a bit. It may not have panned out to be quite what everyone was expecting. Sure, it’s producing some results, but they are not as stellar as originally projected. Interest begins to wane as the project drags on. Some work needs to be done to wrap the project up 100%, but it’s like pulling teeth to get anyone to spend any time on it.Mayday!
•MORE Interest in Another Project – The second reason your project could stall is that the next new project has come along and is giving your old project a run for its money. It’s not that the project you are working on is any less important than it was, it’s just that there’s only so much bandwidth a company can provide each project. Choices have to be made, and everyone’s choice at this time is the new project that just came in the door.The executives of the company and even the project sponsor are now more concerned about this new project. They ask for status reports and updates on a bi-weekly basis, and are ready and able to push obstacles through and get things resolved for their new golden child. Unfortunately, your project takes a back seat.Mayday! Mayday!
•Problems That Can’t Get Resolved – Nothing will suck the life, energy, and joy out of a project like problems that won’t go away. They can range from resource issues to technical challenges that seem impossible for anyone to resolve. Whenever somebody talks about this project, the same issue is brought up over and over again.
I’ve seen projects grind on for MONTHS, nearly paralyzed by a single, unsolved technical problem. The project bounces from one department to the next with the hopes someone will find resolution to its problems, to no avail.Mayday! Mayday! Your project about is to stall!
•Approvals that Can’t Be Obtained – Another area where projects have a tendency to falter is when proper approvals can’t be obtained. A project manager worth his salt is going to have approval gates set up throughout the project to ensure there are no surprises down the road, and that everyone agrees it is okay to move forward. Some of the toughest approvals to get are during the planning phases of a project.
For example, how do you know that ALL business requirements have been captured? Or, how do you know that this is the BEST design solution possible to solve this problem? You don’t know what you don’t know, and people are reluctant to sign off and give their blessing going forward. Their procrastination leads to lack of momentum, which leads to…Mayday! Mayday!
Your project is about to stall and you’re about to go down with it! The good news is that with corrective action you can avoid a project stall. Below are four steps you should take to ensure your projects stay in the air:
1.Realize Your Project is About to Stall – Yu need to understand and acknowledge that your project is in danger.
Has the activity around your project waned? Are fewer people attending your weekly meetings? Are email threads drying up? Do the executives ask you specifically how things are going with your project? The answers to these questions will clue you into whether or not your project is in trouble.
2.Bring It to the Attention of Others – Once you’ve confirmed your project is in trouble, be sure to let others know about the problem. Take it to the project sponsor and let them know what’s happening. Find out if your project is still viable and relevant.
Chances are that they may not even be aware of what has been happening, or that support for your project is dissipating. Get them reengaged and reinvigorated like they were the day the project started.
3.Get Rid of the Dead Weight – Once you’ve confirmed the project is viable and relevant (by the way, if it’s not…kill the project so you and your team can work on something else), focus on the areas that are causing the project to grind to a halt. Get everyone on board and focused on resolving the technical problems plaguing the project. Get the approvals you need to move forward. Throw overboard anything that is weighing the project down and causing it to not progress. Ask your reinvigorated project sponsor to help get some of the dirty work done.
4.Have a Reset Meeting – Finally, bring the team together (this could even include the client) to reset expectations. Talk about the fact that the project is still important to the company, but that it just got off track a bit. Also stress that the necessary problems have been, or soon will be resolved and it’s just as if the project is starting again from day one. These reset meetings go a long way in getting and keeping the momentum going again.
Taking the four steps above will ensure you pull your projects out of a stall and have a smooth rest of the flight!