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How To Communicate Project Delays Effectively

Project delays happen no matter how well structured you are or how well you prepare.

There are a variety of reasons why a project may be delayed, there are a few of them which are beyond our control.

However, you do have some control over how you deal with it. Whether or not you manage the next project depends on how successfully you explain a project delay to stakeholders and clients.

Let’s evaluate how to properly communicate bad news.

Why do project delays happen?

Delays in projects are a big problem. They have the potential to push you over budget, lead you to miss deadlines, and even cause the project to be scrapped.

Reasons why project delays occur;

Indistinct project requirements:

You’ll need answers later if project requirements aren’t conveyed explicitly at the start. You can seek clarification and postpone the project while you wait for a response.

You can also take a chance and risk having to rework a section of the project. If you don’t have adequate understanding upfront, you’ll almost certainly face a setback. Hence, a proper information containing report is essential in project management.

Changed project scope

Clients or stakeholders modifying the project scope generate a lot of project delays.

You’ll need time to establish a new plan if you change course in the middle of a project. It may be necessary to return to prior steps and redo work to meet the new requirements.

Ineffective timeline plan

Inadequately scheduled timelines can also cause a delay in the project. Your timetable is dependent on a number of estimates that may or may not be accurate. Perhaps you set aside one week for a task that actually takes 10, or perhaps you skipped a few tasks along the process.

There are many different types of timeline errors. These mistakes frequently occur when teams attempt to manage projects without implementing an effective project management system. Even if they have software, it is possible that they may not use it regularly. The value of a tool is determined by how it is used. Furthermore, a time tracking software should also be used to track time accurately so as to avoid project delay.

Poor communication with investors

You aren’t the only one who has to approve important accomplishments. Stakeholders will need more time to analyze the changes you send them if you communicate with them late or not at all. They may keep themselves disconnected from your project because you haven’t communicated with them frequently enough.

This is also true if you fail to contact someone when you need to. Sending them past-due information ensures that their answer will be delayed as well.

Resources becoming inaccessible unexpectedly:

Your project is dependent on a variety of resources. Your project might quickly fall behind if team members leave, become ill, or are dragged away to work on another project.

You don’t have to depend exclusively on people. These resource issues can all cause substantial delays if a software product breaks down, a collaborating company goes out of business, or your budget is curtailed.

External vendors not delivering on time

External vendors are frequently used to complete projects successfully. It takes more time to solve the problem and move forward if they deliver late or fall short of expectations.

Unpredictable changes

External vendors are frequently used to complete projects successfully. It takes more time to solve the problem and move forward if they deliver late or fall short of expectations.

Unpredictable events (such as natural calamities) can also cause project delays. Consider how many projects were pushed behind because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

It is inevitable that problems arise and it is unpredictable what resources might be needed to address these problems. Hence, the project manager needs to be fully addressed.

Effective communication of project management delays in 4 steps

Every project manager will be in charge of a delayed project at some point in their career. It’s impossible to avoid.

That’s why it’s critical to understand how to manage a project delay effectively.

Here’s how to get the message across:

1: Let stakeholders know right away

Don’t wait until a problem has gotten out of hand before addressing it.

This is a non-negotiable point. Notify stakeholders as soon as you know there may be a delay. Waiting too long makes you appear as if you aren’t on top of things.

Even if you’re confident you’ll be fine, it’s crucial to let others know you might be a little behind schedule. Then, if you do manage to go back on track, it only goes to show how good a project manager you are.

After you’ve alerted stakeholders to the potential delay, maintain in touch with them frequently. This will comfort them that the project will be done effectively, albeit a little later than expected.

Many difficulties can be avoided by maintaining an open line of contact with stakeholders. You also avoid further delays if you need stakeholder approval to change the project scope or timetable because they’re already aware of the situation. Maintain project control.

2: Stay positive

Always maintain a pleasant attitude when giving bad news. It’s easier to take terrible news from someone cheerful. When it comes to conveying project delays, the same is true. When informing your stakeholders about a probable setback, remain optimistic about the project’s progress. They will have more faith in you if you are confident in the future of your project.

Indeed, you must be realistic in any circumstance that presents an issue. However, being realistic is not the same as being pessimistic. It is feasible to tell stakeholders the truth while maintaining a positive attitude.

3: Make a solution

Avoid defending what went wrong while reporting a delay. It may appear that you’re making excuses rather than addressing the issue.

While you should provide some context and be prepared to answer inquiries about what happened, the solution is far more important. Prepare to discuss how you plan to get back on track.

In most circumstances, stakeholders are unconcerned about why a delay occurred. They simply want the project to get back on track.

Even if you have suggestions for how to prevent this in the future, now is not the time to discuss them. You’ve already gone off the rails, and there’s nothing you can do about it now. Concentrate on the solutions and explain how you plan to address the issue.

4: Avoid finger-pointing

Blaming and pointing fingers don’t assist anyone. They also make you look guilty, even if you aren’t to blame.

Projects are frequently hampered by factors outside your control. It doesn’t matter who’s to blame, and it doesn’t matter how you would have avoided the situation if you could do it all over again. You can’t go back, so focus on the future.

Playing the blame game isn’t going to help you in any way. It can only lead to stakeholders losing faith in you and your team, or team members having negative feelings toward one another. If you need to talk to a specific team member about something, do so privately. Your stakeholders don’t have to know about it.

Effective use of software for better project communication

Use your project management software to increase project communication, cut down on delays, and let people know that delays are inevitable.

Make the most of your task management software’s communication features, no matter what it is.

Organize all project-related conversations by task. Use the comments feature to preserve those critical conversations tied to the related job instead of discussing group projects in Slack or through email. It will save you a lot of time searching for new information and referring to previous discussions.

If you do need to conduct a real-time chat in person or via a communication tool, make sure to update your task management software as soon as possible with the essential takeaways. Communication can also be organized by task for remote teams that work in different time zones.

When all of the necessary information is already on the assignment, you don’t have to wait for someone to respond to your email or schedule a meeting. Even when everyone works at different times, work gets done faster and the project moves forward.

Communicate project delays effectively

It’s difficult to tell your stakeholders that you’re behind schedule, but it’s a lot easier when you have a strategy. Concentrate on the answer, and keep in mind that delays happen to the best of us.

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