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Keeping Business Projects on Track

Tuesday, July 31, 2012   By Mike Reddy


There are many reasons that can cause a project to fail during the implementation phase - funding, motivation, time-management and focus are among the usual culprits.

Try incorporating these simple steps into your business to ensure that the excitement and drive of a new project gets carried through to fruition every time. Once a project has lost focus or started to miss critical deadlines, it's important to take action.

Identify the issue that's causing it to stray from target. This may be the most difficult part of the process for a number of reasons, but it's vital to establish the "why" in order to put things right.
It might be useful to review the project with the objective of streamlining it. Look at how some of the trivial tasks could be removed or dealt with in some other way. They can be de-motivating and can bring the entire project to a halt.
It's important to understand that in small business, change is par for the course. Ensuring your team understands the need for any prescribed changes is essential. Constant communication within your team is the best way to overcome unforeseen obstacles.
Appoint an ambassador for the project - a point person - who can be available to field questions or concerns as well as managing a swift flow of communication between team members.

If scheduling or time-management is holding up progress, the Harvard Business Review suggests starting with these simple steps:

  1. Look to the end to recover - go back to the long-term plan and make up for lost time by rescheduling missed deadlines.
  2. Narrow the scope - eliminate non-essential elements. This may well reduce costs and save time and allow team members to focus on the major goals.
  3. Renegotiate - take time to look at alternatives including time, budget, personnel, deadlines, etc.

Your project may be faltering due to a lack of motivation or inability to meet deadlines. If this is the case it's important to identify where the problem lies and look to offer solutions. This may call for delegation, re-assignment or incentives.

Be prepared to do what has to be done. Create a new timeline, put in more hours, increase the budget, re-energise and motivate your team-whatever is necessary. The project was started for a purpose and that purpose will remain unrealised unless the project is completed.

Often the best-laid plans will go awry. Adaptability is the key in project management and, with good leadership, a slipping project can be salvaged.

Mike Reddy is a Chartered Accountant, business coach and advisor helping businesses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast to easily increase their profits and cash flow. He is currently President of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, a Regional Councillor for Sydney North East and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sydney leadership team. As well as advising businesses, Mike presents business development seminars and webinars and is regularly contacted by the media to comment on small business matters. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.