It always starts innocently enough. An overlooked detail, perhaps. An illness on the project team. A vendor sheepishly admits they can’t supply something for another two weeks. Whatever the cause, project delays can cascade like an avalanche – a snowball can quickly grow into a skyscraper-sized mass bearing down on you and wiping away everything in its path.
Some delays are inevitable. The key is isolating project delays,and stepping in to prevent cascades. One delay is manageable. Two delays are a challenge. When delays are creating further delays it becomes an impossibility. Managing project delays while maintaining the overall project schedule is the bread and butter of the project manager – but how do you do it?
Cross-Team Dependency Chains
The reason delays cascade is that dependencies are not always clear. When step seven of a process is dependent on step three on another process, the dependency can get lost in the noise. Unless your project plan shows cross-team dependencies, you won’t discover the problem until it’s too late. Now imagine that step three of that second process itself is crucial for the beginning of the second milestone. You can see how a few innocuous delays can turn into a raging wildfire threatening the entire project.
Imagine a project management tool that highlights cross-team dependencies. The timeline grabs your focus to where it really needs to be – where the real risk lies in the event of a problem. This tool is so tuned in to the issue that dependencies create links that remain unbroken with drag and drop capability – move a task, and what’s dependent on it moves along with it.
OK, so this tool keeps you focus on the dependency chains. That helps when one delay hits. But how does it help when things are moving around at a faster pace?
Plan Vs Actual: Keeping The Project Together
Tracking project changes is a drag. There’s a change log, sure, but it doesn’t show itself visually. If you saved an old Gantt, you can compare it to the new one accounting for all the changes…but even then, there’s no way to just line them up and see the changes at a glance…especially because the Gantt itself doesn’t really show you the project at a glance to begin with.
Enter the Plan Vs Actual tool (sometimes called “freeze comparison”).
Imagine your revamped project management tool timeline, with its dependency capabilities, also allowed you to save the timeline at any time as a reference point against future changes. With the click of a button, you could load a reference point and see, lined up and at a glance, every change to the project visually shifted.
OK, you say. Cool visuals. How does this help me, though?
Simple. This is the ultimate project delay prevention – you are automatically aware, from the beginning, of every shifted deadline, milestone, activity, and delivery date. Instead of incrementally managing delays as they happen, you have a chance to reset everything, and juggle the project plan to account for the new realities on the ground. Everything is at your fingertips – at the get go – and your planning wizardry gets a chance to shine in the moment it’s needed most.
Two tools. With them, you have the ability to take on challenges nimbly and effectively. You’ll never get buried under that delay avalanche again.