If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.

In business, the phrase time is money is extremely accurate. Project Managers (PMs) want projects to be of high quality and completed as quickly as possible. Oftentimes, project deadlines are extended and over budget. If time is so valuable in the world of business, why do projects continue to come in late and over budget? The brightest project managers would have trouble answering this question. To counteract this phenomenon, project managers can reduce the amount of time allocated to a project by efficiently utilizing their time.

The text and slides from our course says that project deadlines or critical dates are put into place for several reasons, including but not limited to time-to-market pressures, unforeseen delays, overhead costs, and incentive contracts. Unfortunately, these dates often lead to rushed, low-quality deliverables, produced to obtain bonuses. Every project manager wants to be able to complete a project with high-quality deliverables and move on to the next opportunity. The difficulty arises when project managers are required to present high-quality work with less time. Although the aforementioned concept can come across as unfathomable, it is not. There are techniques that project managers can utilize to reduce a project’s duration. First, a PMs can implement a process known as fast-tracking. Fast tracking is simply working on aspects that are along the critical path as opposed to working on overlapping activities in sequential steps. However, this process can increase cost and is quite risky. Another technique PMs can use is project crashing. This is pouring more resources into the tasks along the critical path. Once again, this process is costly and risky. Lastly, PMs can look for alternative methods such as reducing the scope or increasing staffing to finalize deliverables.

While the aforementioned techniques are effective, they are also costly. Risk averse organizations may want to consider implementing these steps:

  1. Monitoring how people are utilizing their time and removing waste.
    1. PMS should monitor how teams are progressing compared to the developed schedule and determine how staffing is utilizing non-project hours.
  2. Develop a schedule and timeline with purposeful meetings built-in.
    1. Often project teams have meetings that are not useful. Meetings should take place when needed. PMs should also make sure all parties are mentally engaged and actively participating in meeting,
  3. PMs should understand how their staff achieves at their highest level.
    1. Some teams need constant support and contact. While others simply need to be told what to do and they can fulfill the obligation
  4. Focus on the project
    1. Projects are drawn out because teams are gathering and not discussing, focusing or even working on the actual project this is a huge waste of company resources. When teams are together the phones, emails and IMs are set aside. Everyone’s focus should be completing the product

Project time reduction is difficult, but with a plan and exceptional time management skills, it can be done. What experiences have you had with attempting to beat a project deadline or simply trying to meet one?




How Creepy Was That?

Our textbook describes a project’s scope, or parameters, as a definition of the end result or mission of a project. These end results usually include some sort of objective, milestone, or deliverable. A project statement is critical as it makes all parties aware of the objective of a project. Project statements are often plagued by scope creep. Scope creep is the tendency for the project scope to expand over time due to changing requirements, specifications, and priorities. Avoiding scope creep is a major challenge for most Project Managers. However, many projects fall victim to scope creep. How does this happen? According to Project Smart, the main causes for scope creep are:

  • Poor Requirement Analysis – Clients are often unsure of what they want, which can lead to an unnecessary strain on resources
  • Lack of Change Control – Project managers should expect some form of scope creep to take place. To deal with this Project Managers can utilize a change control form and keep record of project modifications with a change log.
  • Gold PlatingThis is known as trying to supersede the scope of the project. People often believe that if they over deliver it will add value. To defeat gold plating, Project Managers should make sure team members are focusing on providing the client with what is requested in the scope and nothing more.

In summation, Project Managers should expect to encounter some sort of scope creep and develop a plan for dealing with it. Additionally, Project Managers should make sure the team is focused on delivering what is stated in the project scope.

As an undergraduate at Northern Illinois University, I obtained the opportunity to work on a team of Junior Consultants for YUM! Brands. The purpose of this project was to provide recommendations on how to improve disclosure to investors and communicate Yum’s global growth story more effectively. During this six-month project, the team was often guilty of scope creep. Being six eager undergrads, we constantly tried to gold plate the project scope. We continuously looked for ways to provide the client with more than what they asked for, this often lead to useless discussions and wasting time and energy on items that did not make the final deliverable. Fortunately for us, our Project Manager would often ask, is this part of the project’s scope? Most of the time the item being discussed was irrelevant and we moved on to more pressing matters. In my personal opinion, I believe it is easy to try to overachieve when you are working on a project that you are very excited about, but this often leads to deliverables that are not focused.

In your previous professional and educational experiences, have you dealt with scope creep, and if so how did you overcome this? How would you deal with a client that is pushing the boundaries of a project statement?