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Monday, August 3, 2009

Managing Tough Projects - Some points of advise

Steps for When the Project Starts to Fall Behind

1. Renegotiate. Discuss with stakeholders about increasing the budget or extending the deadline.
2. Recover during later steps. Reexamine budgets and schedules to see if you can you make up the time elsewhere.
3. Narrow project scope. Are there nonessential elements of the project that can be dropped to reduce costs and save time.
4. Deploy more resources. Can you put more people or machines to work? Weigh the costs against the importance of the deadline.
5. Accept substitution. Can you substitute a less-expensive or more readily available item?
6. Seek alternative sources. Can another source supply the missing item?
7. Accept partial delivery. Can you accept a few of a missing item to keep work going and complete the delivery later?
8. Offer incentives. Can you offer bonuses or other incentives for on-time delivery?
9. Demand compliance. Will demanding that people do what they said they would get the desired result? This may require support from upper management.

Steps for Building a Gantt Chart.
1. List phases of project, from first to last, down left side of page.
2. Add time scale across bottom from beginning to deadline.
3. Draw blank rectangle for phase one from phase start date to estimated completion date.
4. Draw rectangles for each remaining phase; make sure dependent phases start on or after the date that any earlier, dependent phases finish.
5. For independent phases, draw time-estimate rectangles according to preferences of people doing and supervising the work.
6. Adjust phase time estimates as needed so that the entire project finishes on or before deadline.
7. Add a milestone legend as appropriate.
8. Show chart to stakeholders and team members for feedback.
9. Adjust as needed.
Tips for Scheduling

1. Know which deadlines are hard-and-fast and which are not.
2. Compare your project to similar previous projects.
3. No task should last longer than four to six weeks. When tasks approach that time frame, they can probably be broken down further.
4. Don’t schedule more detail than you yourself can actually oversee.
5. Develop schedules according to what is logically possible: resource allocation should be done later.
6. Record all time segments in the same increments. Do not schedule a project so that overtime is needed to meet original target dates; this leaves little flexibility for handling problems that might occur later.

Tips for Monitoring Budgets

When monitoring actual costs against your estimate, watch out for these common contingencies that can send your project over budget:

1. Inflation during long-term projects.
2. Failing to factor in currency exchange rates.
3. Not getting firm prices from suppliers and subcontractors.
4. Estimates based on different costing methods; for example, hours vs. dollars.
5. Capital equipment purchased before the plan.
6. Unplanned personnel costs used to remain on schedule, including increased overtime.
7. A need for additional space.
8. Unexpected training costs.
9. Consultant fees for unforeseen problems.

The following contingencies contribute to costs being under budget:
1. Capital expenditures not made as planned.
2. Staff not allocated as planned.

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