How to Minimize the Risk of Delaying Your Project by a Customer

By | March 29th, 2013|Business Management, Project Management, Risk Management|1 Comment

How to minimize risksWhen it comes to project delays there are several factors that can lead to such situation. The customer is one of them and there are two issues that can be discussed: what to do when the delay already happened and the other how to minimize the risk of happening such a delay.

Customer delaying the project is a major risk that should not be overlooked in any project. Minimizing this risk is not easy to be accomplished and its probability differs from client to client. But in case it happens mitigation actions must be performed.

Write clear specifications

In order to keep things clear and avoid misunderstandings it is important to create a solid project plan with clear specifications regarding possible project delays and the measures and penalties that apply. When it happens communicate clear factual evidence of the cost and timescale impact of delays caused by the customer. This is very important to keep things clear and to avoid the situation when the customers may argue that it is his fault and the contractor is suspected for hiding other delays behind those caused directly by them. Issues need to be resolved in a timely fashion to minimize risk and loss on both sides.

When dealing with external clients and when creating a contract it is advisable to add a clause that states that the client is responsible for prompt responses to ensure the project is not delayed. If the client provides delayed responses, actions etc. that lead to project delays then it nullifies timeline clauses in the contract. If the contract doesn’t have this kind of specifications then it is preferred to get a lawyer, or a better one in case a lawyer already exists.

In return when dealing with internal team the project manager has to take the same actions. Although there are no contractual terms that can generate a direct financial penalty, it will get noted at review time and possibly no raise…

Know the customer management

Avoiding the project delay problem is not a healthy thing to do. Escalation might reveal there are issues on the customer side where their project manager is not communicating clearly enough internally. This is why when contracting a new project it is good to know the customer and almost a must to know his management team. Knowing what to expect from them can decide whether to accept the new contract or to reject it. And even if the project is accepted contractual terms can be added to compensate the lack of professionalism on the customer management side. (more…)

What to Do when the Customer is Delaying Your Project

By | February 25th, 2013|Business Management, Project Management Software, Risk Management|1 Comment

customers delaying projectsContrary to the popular belief, the customer is not always right. In fact, sometimes the customer may be the one delaying the project by not giving the approval of a completed phase when required, by not communicating effectively, by missing deadlines for the review of the deliverables – shortly, by being aloof to the project.

Customer’s delay translates into delay of the project, monetary loss, and decrease of the motivation and morale of the project team. Sometimes the customer may be too busy, especially if he or she represents a large organization and yours is just a side project for them. Other times, the customer may not see the implications of his or her attitude or may be just relying on the project manager’s decisions. Regardless of the motivation, customer’s delaying the project is a problem that you, as the project manager, must solve.

Ideally, this situation could have been avoided by accurate project planning. A communication plan, including deadlines to be respected by both sides, and monetary penalties for project delays should have been approved by the customer. More important, since customer’s performance is actually a major project risk, mitigation plans for it should have been included in the risk management plan. However, in small projects, sometimes this documentation or part of it has been overlooked. (more…)

Managing Projects Using Project Baselines

By | September 24th, 2012|Project Management Software, Project Tracking|1 Comment

Baselines in RationalPlan Project Management SoftwareA baseline as the name suggests is a line that is being used as a base for future measurement. It is a reference. In Project Management, the term baseline refers to an accepted and approved project plan. Usually known as project baseline, it is a must for a project manager that wish to monitor and evaluate the success of the project. Without it there is no possibility to compare the current status of the project with the initial estimated one.

Once established what the baseline is, the next important step is to store it for future use. If it is not stored, then it cannot be used to compare against it and it is meaningless. For a project there can be saved multiple baselines depending on the project size and how often the project plan changes.

To obtain the best efficiency a project manager should best use a project management software to create the detailed project plan. After it gets approved the manager should save it as a baseline project plan. During the project execution, comparisons can be done between the initial baseline estimates and the current status to compute variances. This comparison can be done either manually or automatically by software tools. Of course the second approach is preferred.

Types of project baselines

Since a project baseline includes many data from a project it is difficult to manage it as a whole and usually it is broken into several parts. This makes the complexity of baseline management easier to deal with. Project baselines generally include:

  • Scope baseline – the technical, physical and functional requirements for deliverable products
  • Schedule baseline – the project schedule and all of the elements supporting the schedule
  • Cost/Budget baseline – an approved budget usually in a time distribution format used to estimate, monitor, and control overall cost performance on the project
  • Quality/Risk baseline – the set of known possible changes (uncertainties) that could impact the performance of the project (more…)

Project Management is not Business Management

By | March 24th, 2010|Business Management, Project Management Software|Comments Off on Project Management is not Business Management

One of the most prominent characteristic of a project as a concept, is its sharp delimitation in time. It has clear start and end dates and is designed to achieve a unique scope, unlike the ongoing operations specific for business management.

Sometimes, the end date of a project is the most important characteristic of the project. It is the starting point when designing the project deployment, any other characteristic being subordinated to this. In fact using a project management software allows a project manager to add a higher level of transparency regarding the interaction between various factors that interact when developing a project. Keeping some of this variables constant (like the end date of a project), allows to the project managers to determine and control the others (like cost or scope of the project).

Because of it’s very limited nature, a project duration can be clearly divided into five main phases. In the following observations we will presume that the client has clear expectations regarding the project and knows decently well what results he needs. The five main phases of a project are the following:

  • defining
  • planning
  • execution
  • controlling
  • closure

In the defining stage an important aspect is to speak with the people who are affected or exert influence over the project evolution. These people are referred to as the stakeholders. Getting their feedback will help you outline the project activities. This is commonly known as the scope (the work that should be done). It is equally important to write down both what will and will not be achieved. You want to make sure you know what the stakeholders are expecting. In this phase the aims and objectives are set, including the development of project deliverables and the desired outcomes of a specific set of activities.

The planning stage presumes breaking the deliverables into subdeliverables down to a level where activities can be outlined. Subsequently can be defined  the relations between tasks and their timeline for completion. An important aspect of this stage is defining the requirements for completion of the project, stipulating the needed resources as well as any other requirements deemed necessary. The risks and project constraints are identified and contingency plans originated to address any of these potential issues.

The execution phase takes the major part of the project. Here is most likely that surprises and conflicts to occur and sometimes corrective actions should be taken in order to bring the expected performance in accordance with the project plan. Project manager is responsible for coordinating individuals and make them acting like members of the same team.

As the work begins, the next stage of controlling the project defines the success or failure of a project manager, as the constant surveillance and adaption of project plan are required to reflect the progression of  involved activities. A project manager should take advantage of the methodologies and software available on the market. A large number of them are available online.

In the project closure stage, the team will be pulled together to analyze project performance and outline the learned lessons.

Stand By Soft is the provider of RationalPlan, a powerful project management software capable of handling multiple interrelated projects and covering project management areas starting with WBS construction, project planning and scheduling to progress tracking etc.