We’ve been spending some time talking about how to bootstrap your project management lately in ways that are both engaging for your employees and also beneficial to the long-term outlook of your company. Because let’s face it, project management doesn’t have to be the giant bore some may make it out to be.

But what do you do when a project is flailing or becoming increasingly impossible to finish on time? First of all, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. According to this recent survey from McKinsey and Company, “17 percent of large IT projects go so badly that they can threaten the very existence of the company” and, “on average, large IT projects run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted”.

So here’s our top 3 tips to get those projects finished on time, and under budget.

  1. Take your time planning, but be prepared to become agile: Here’s the number one rule when it comes to effectively managing your project: you must study, write down, and fully understand each possible outcome and variable of your project before you dive in. That means allocating your costs and resources, preparing yourself for random variables or sudden unfortunate events, and documenting all of it. It’s not just about having the data in your hands, but knowing the data, too. According to Inc.com, “So many people just jump in haphazardly with a big, quick project. Then they hit a dead end because they didn’t think it through or they didn’t have the right resources. This is the death of efficiency. Better to spend a few hours or even a day talking through the scope and planning. That way you can triage appropriately setting the priorities based upon available time and resources.”
  2. Track, jot down, and report on all of your progresses: If you set realistic goals not only with yourself, but with your employees as well as your higher ups, you’ll be managing expectations much more effectively than if you just set the project in motion and left it at that. Not only that, but having everyone see their progress and milestones on a project based off of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you set, you will give your employees a sense of satisfaction and your higher ups a sense of security as they embark on project implementation. According to Lifehack, you should, “create a project sheet that records your targets and your current status. Specify your KPIs that you want to achieve. If your goal is to lose weight, your KPIs will be your weight, your fat percentage, and perhaps your performance during your exercise sessions. Then every week, review your progress.”
  3. Stop thinking about failure: Many say that you get what you give, and if all you’re giving are thoughts of failure or loss, that’s likely what you’ll get. Now I realise this sounds a little hokey, but it’s happened in the corporate world all too often. According to FastCompany, “Ferrari once worked with a graduate student who claimed creative people aren’t procrastinating so much as taking needed time to complete creative work. “Like yeast, we need time to rise,” said his student. Fair enough. But when embarking on creative work, what are you thinking about when you take the time to focus? Are you ruminating about failures or savoring the good times? “What we found was that they were ruminating about failures,” says Ferrari of his examination of procrastination patterns in creative people. That negativity was what hurt their progress most.”

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