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Common Mistakes


Some Remedies

If you have got to the stage of needing some remedies, things have clearly gone wrong. Firstly learn from the mistakes.

The project has not even started and the budget has been cut, and the timeframes shortened.

  • Action needs to be taken now, before the project commences.
  • Whatever action you take, you are going to have to discuss it carefuly with everyone concerned, and definitely get signed approval for the changes.
  • This is a loud warning of trouble ahead. You need to make sure that whoever is causing the changes is aware of, and responsible for the potential results.
    • Try and reduce the scope of the project.
    • Consider some alternative technologies. If the Client wanted an IT asset management system, you could find an open source project, contribute the special features to that project, and install the open source software.
    • Cut some features, perhaps there was some fat available for trimming.
    • Perhaps you can find a way to use less expensive resources, without compromising the plan or the quality of deliverables.
    • Perhaps you can get resources from elsewhere in the company that are costed in a different way.

You have scope creep looming because there were ommisions in the original specification or Scope documents at the project inception.

  • If the users / management insist on the added features, have a standard form requiring their signature (from the highest level) as authourisation for the change.
  • The form should clearly state that this change may lead to missed deadlines, and over spending. This will help to reinforce, in their minds, the potential impact of the changes or additions.
  • You may really need to add the features in Phase 1 but later someone will want to know why the project is late. If this situation develops, things may get unpleasant at a later date, and a clear-cut signed request from the purchaser can help to smooth things over.

The budget was inadequate

  • You should never end up here. Presumably there was some Scope-Creep. Perhaps you can use those forms to get extra budget authorised.
  • Perhaps there were unexpected expenses (exchange rate fluctuation)
    • It is very important to recognise this problem as early as possible, as it gives you more options and flexibility, than if you recognise it at the last moment.
    • Perhaps you can use the same suggestions as in the first example.
    • You may be able to request additional budget.
    • Make very sure that you have identified why the budget was inadequate. If the scope changed once, you are justifed in requesting additional budget once. If the scope is still changing you need to get the scope to a stable state, so that you can request additional budget once only.

Its your first glance at the plan. The plan was prepared by someone else, and you can see that the scope is incomplete, the budget is hopeless, and the timeframes unattainable.

  • Firstly, if you take over a project from someone else, try and find out what shape the project is in before you start.
  • Next make sure that if you do take the job, you will have the authority to fix it. Make sure that the bad plan is as a result of bad planning, and not because the previous Project Manager got forced into a corner.
  • Find out why the last Project Manager left. Maybe they know someting you should know.
  • Consider not taking the job. Everyone likes a challenge (well we do), but sometimes you need to know when the situation is hopeless. If you take on the badly planned project and it fails, it is going to be your fault.
  • Attempt to force a complete re-working of the plan and the budget, after all you did not agree to the confines of the plan you have been handed. It is better to restart now, than to fail later.
  • Consider walking away. Ask yourself how much mud is going to stick on your name when this badly planned project fails. If you walk away on day one some people will get pretty upset this week, but they will forget in a month or two. If you stick around until the predictable failure of the project, they will remember you for years and years. Project failures look bad on a resume, no matter why they failed.
Common Mistakes