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How To Bring a Project Back on Track
By Annie Mirza

May 7, 2024 | 8 min read

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Written by

Annie Mirza

Content Strategist and Content Writer

 

Annie is a professional writer and content expert with years of experience in digital publishing, social media and content creation. 

Managing projects, programmes and portfolios in any environment is challenging. Often times we’re told how to prevent a project from derailing, or what to do at the start so that projects, programmes and portfolios stay on track. But it’s not always that simple. What happens when things start to go wrong for unclear reasons, even though we think we’ve done all these things? In this article, we’ll explore a few effective strategies to bring a project back on track. Let's dive in and discover how to overcome obstacles and ensure successful project delivery.

What can cause project disruption?

We’ve got to start at the ‘what’; the root cause. Until we figure out what went wrong and why, we can’t begin to fix it. Of course, an expected disruption is easier to navigate, it’s the unexpected challenges that can really throw a project off track. And sometimes, these unexpected challenges are easier to solve than you might think. We’ve got to identify where these disruptions can come from before we can talk about how to solve them. Here are some common project disrupters, do any of them sound familiar to you?

  1. Poor communication among team members and stakeholders can lead to misunderstandings and delays. 

  2. Lack of clear goals and objectives may cause confusion, resulting in wasted time and resources. 

  3. Inadequate planning and unrealistic timelines can set the stage for failure before the project even begins.

  4. Insufficient resource allocation or sudden changes in budget constraints can disrupt the project flow. 

  5. Team conflicts or lack of collaboration might hinder progress and innovation within the team. 

  6. External factors like market shifts or regulatory changes could also impact the project timeline and deliverables.

 

Techniques to bring a project back on track

When a project starts veering off course, it's essential to take swift action to get things back on track. Once you notice that a number of projects or programmes are beginning to slip into ‘amber’ or ‘red’ status, move fast. Here are some techniques that can help steer your project in the right direction.

 

  1. Reevaluate the project plan and identify any bottlenecks or areas of concern. Make adjustments to timelines, resources, or scope where needed. This is especially important if you’re managing programmes and portfolios; the sooner you make the call on what to change and where to prioritise, the smoother it’ll be to bring multiple projects back on track.

  2. Reassess scope and objectives to ensure clarity and alignment with stakeholder expectations. Identify any scope creep or changes that may have occurred and assess their impact on the project timeline and resources.

  3. Identify critical path to prioritise tasks. The critical path is the sequence of tasks that determines the duration of the project. Prioritise tasks along the critical path, focusing on urgency and impact on overall project or programme goals. Focus on completing critical milestones first before tackling less crucial activities.

  4. Clear up your communication. We mentioned poor communication being one of the areas that can push a project into hot water, but mastering communication can save it. Good, clear communication is key. Keep all team members informed about changes and challenges so that everyone is on the same page.

  5. Adjust the deliverables, and or timeline based on revised estimates if you need to but make sure you negotiate with stakeholders. Be honest and transparent about the reasons why and ensure this aligns with project goals and objectives.

  6. Apply agile methodologies if the project is still facing significant challenges or uncertainties. Agile approaches emphasise iterative development, flexibility, and adaptive planning, allowing you and your team to respond quickly to changes and deliver value incrementally.

  7. Allocate more resources to critical tasks or project phases to help progress. This could involve reassigning team members, hiring new team members, outsourcing certain activities, or acquiring additional tools or technology.

  8. Regularly monitor progress and performance on the changes that were made to help bring the project back on track. Looking at the right metrics and tracking improvements can help you make informed decisions moving forward. 

  9. Streamline your processes with the lessons you’ve learned. Use project management tools and techniques that work for you, your team and the project. This goes for software tools as well, some may suit some projects, and some others. When you streamline workflows, you enhance collaboration among team members, and increase productivity.

  10. Celebrate milestones and achievements: Recognise and celebrate achievements along the way to maintain team morale and motivation. Acknowledge the progress that’s been made and show enthusiasm for the team's commitment to project success.

 

By implementing these techniques effectively, you can bring your project back on track towards successful completion. And having the right people to manage projects in your organisation is vital. Managing projects isn’t simple, especially when things go wrong. And as we all know, things tend to go wrong – nothing is ever perfect. 

Next time you find your project veering off track, consider enlisting the support of project management professionals to help you realign your efforts and achieve your goals effectively. With their guidance and leadership, you'll be better equipped to tackle challenges head-on and drive your project towards successful completion. No matter the project, Firewood can support you, your teams and your organisations. Get in touch on info@firewoodltd.com and let’s move forward, together.

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