Project Going Over Budget? How To Get Back On Track And Achieve Customer Success

Project Going Over Budget? How To Get Back On Track And Achieve Customer Success

Even the most world-class Professional Services Organizations (PSOs) with the best project managers and service team members will encounter problematic projects every once in a while.

When this happens, projects can run over budget and clients can become frustrated if the service team doesn’t turn the project around and get things back on track.

If you find yourself with a project that seems like it’s derailing quickly, here’s some steps you can take to resolve the issues, get the project back on track, and deliver a successful and complete project that will keep your client satisfied with the service you provided:

1. Identify the problem areas

When a project starts to derail, the first step is to identify what the problem is. Maybe your service team has hit a roadblock where they’re waiting on a piece of information from the client. Or perhaps there is a technical difficulty that needs to be resolved by another department within your organization, such as the IT department. Maybe the project was incorrectly scoped during the sales process and your service team is unable to deliver a complete project with the allotted hours dedicated to project implementation.

Whatever the problem may be, identifying it allows you to step back and look for a resolution to the problem. This is where a project manager should take control and resolve the issues at hand in order to get the project back on track.

A Professional Services Automation (PSA) Software can help a project manager identify and resolve project issues, because it helps provide a clear picture of the entire project lifecycle. Part of monitoring a project for success requires tracking a project’s estimate-at-completion against its budget. Doing so, acts like an early warning indicator, alerting project managers when a specific aspect of a project may have taken more effort than intended. For this to be effective, however, project managers need to maintain accurate resource management projections and visibility into the project in real-time. Using a PSA software can easily enable a project manager to do this.

2. Resolve the issues by making necessary adjustments

When you’ve identified that there’s a problem with the project, the worst thing you can do is hope that it will correct itself along the way and everything will work out in the end. If it seems unlikely that a project will be completed on time and on budget, that will most likely be the case unless you step in early and make adjustments in key result areas.

Some project managers will assume that a tiny setback will not have a large impact on the completion of the project. This may be true in some circumstances, however, tiny setbacks can often add up throughout the lifecycle of the project which means it is the responsibility of the project manager to adjust for these discrepancies and keep the project moving along smoothly.

One tactical action that project managers can take is to identify the project’s key result areas, also known as critical success factors in project management. These are the big-bucket items that must be completed on time and to a high degree of quality in order to achieve project success. Much like an intricate game of chess, project managers can shift around priorities to accommodate for discrepancies in the project’s plan.

For example, if you know that a client is more budget-conscious than time-sensitive, you may be able to play around with resource utilization in project management. You might trim the team to stick to the budget but at the expense of time to market. If scope or quality are factors that can be adjusted, you may be able to make small reductions that don’t jeopardize the ultimate goal of the project while still achieving your key result areas.

3. Include the client in the discussion as adjustments are being made

There’s nothing that will frustrate your client more than being told at the last moment that the team has used up all of the allocated hours for the project and the work hasn’t been completed, especially if the client was under the impression that things were running as planned. If your client has a strict budget for the project or a non-negotiable date for project completion, they will not be happy if they find out at the eleventh hour that there are issues with the project plan.

As soon as the problem has been identified by the project team, and suggestions for making adjustments have been decided on by the project manager, the client should be made aware of the adjustments that are proposed and sign-off with their approval of the changes to the project plan.

This transparency provides the client visibility into the project and ensures that they are less likely to feel blindsided later on if there are unexpected costs associated with their project, or timelines have shifted.

4. Use data and insights from problematic projects to ensure future projects run more smoothly

Sooner or later every project team will face a problematic project. Hopefully by taking the steps above you can turn a project around and successfully deliver a project that meets your client’s satisfaction, however, the best PSOs will learn from their mistakes and use the lessons they learn from problematic projects to make future projects run smoother.

A PSA software with functionality for creating detailed reports of projects, can help PSOs plan for better success in the future by using project data to understand where improvements can be made. In addition, a PSA software with the ability to send surveys for client feedback and create communities for clients to have visibility into a project can help you get a better understanding of what your clients are looking for and how to do better in the future. Project Health Check Statuses will allow you to quickly see your most successful and least successful projects and empower you to make changes where needed.

Always Feel Busy? 5 Lessons from Project Portfolio Management (PPM)

Always Feel Busy? 5 Lessons from Project Portfolio Management (PPM)

Have You Heard This Somewhere : “We have to do more with less!”

If you constantly feel pressure to meet deadlines with your available resources, you’re not alone. The idea of doing “more with less” is a constant challenge for businesses in all industries. One common approach is to make better to-do lists, hoping project visibility will help your team work as efficiently as possible. That kind of work falls under “project management,” which is the art and science of “getting stuff done.” It’s important and can absolutely help you get more done in the time you have.

Sometimes, however, there’s just too much to do and not enough hours to get everything done.

If that’s how you feel most of the time, there’s another term you should know: project portfolio management (PPM). If project management is the art of getting stuff done, project portfolio management is the art of choosing what to work on in the first place.

Project Portfolio Management: The Art of Choosing What to Work On

Some companies have no process for determining what projects their teams should be working on. This can cause all kinds of problems, including:

  • Intense internal competition for financial and staffing resources Lots of small projects going all at once Projects with frequent status changes (on-hold, high-priority, on-hold)
  • Frequent rework and high costs with 3rd-party vendors
  • Teams that feel overworked and underappreciated (and managers too!)

If any of those describe your business, PPM principles can help you better focus your team on the work that really matters.

Here are 5 strategies to consider:

1. Understand Where Project Requests Come From

Sometimes your team receives a work request without much context for why the work is needed. In those cases, the title of the person making the request often determines how high of a priority the project is. But in a context where your team already has more to do than time available, it’s good to at least stop and understand what’s driving the request. The project might be:

  • Part of a larger strategic initiative for the company.
  • A response to a problem with your company’s product.
  • A response to an internal problem that’s keeping other people from accomplishing their work.
  • A response to a move made by your competition.
  • An opportunity with an uncertain future benefit.

Understanding what kind of request you’ve received will help you determine which projects to accept. When a “fire-drill” request comes in, accepting the project probably means putting everything else on hold. Having a PPM evaluation process in place will help you decide whether that’s the right thing to do or not.

2. Get Clear About Value and Capability

Here are two questions to ask when you receive a new project request:

  1. How much value will the project bring to the organization?
  2. Is my team capable of successfully delivering this initiative?

Try to only accept projects that you know will bring value to your organization. If you’re not sure, go back to the person who requested the project and ask questions until you know. It can also be tempting to take on a big project to give your team members a chance to “grow” their skills. But there’s a fine line between letting your people grow and simply not having the right skills on your team to accomplish a project.

3. Be Willing to Shut Down Projects

If you haven’t had a PPM process in place, it’s likely you have too many projects going on. Start by simply listing out everything that’s happening on your team or in your department. You might be surprised to find how many unfinished projects you really have going. Some of those projects won’t be worth continuing.

4. Be Open About Priorities

Shutting down projects means someone’s request is going to go unmet. That’s a difficult thing, especially in organizations that have never said “no” to projects in the past. Be open with both the project owners and the members of your team. You can’t expect someone to be happy when his or her project gets shut down. But if you let everyone know what’s happening and why, there’s a better chance they’ll understand.

5. Embrace Uncertainty In Your Decision Making Process

Finally, when trying to prioritize, it’s common to make accounting projections. You might do a payback period analysis or try to calculate Net Present Value (NPV) for a project, then rank each project by the numbers. The problem with this approach is that it can hide assumptions. Some projects have low uncertainty. You’ll know how long the project will take and what benefit you can expect from it. These are sometimes called “bread and butter” projects. Other projects will require innovation. You won’t know exactly how long the project will take or what benefit to expect. These are high uncertainty projects. Accounting projections like NPV can hide the inherent uncertainty in your projects.

Instead of giving each project a single value, present a range of possible values instead. That way you’ll be able to see which projects have a relatively certain benefit and which ones are more uncertain but might have greater payoff if all goes well.

Conclusion

You only have so much time and so many resources.

If your company is struggling to “get more done” with your current staff and budget, a Klient PSA might be the solution to improve your project management and project portfolio management skills can help.