Why Project Gets Delayed?

imageOne of the core responsibility of a project manager is to complete the project within estimated timelines. However, 80 percent of the projects fail to finish within the timelines. Why?

If you look at the process of estimation, there is always a sufficient buffer. When a project is estimated, sufficient buffer is added to the tasks by the person-resources. A project manager then added his own buffer before committing the finish date to stakeholders. The amount of buffer depends on the experience of project manager and nature of the project. Still, projects are commonly tends to miss the guidelines. In this post, I am going to explore some basic things that helps to finish a project on time.

Why projects gets delayed?

Before I explain how to finish a project on time, you should understand why projects gets delayed. There are two basic factors – The Student Syndrome and Parkinson’s law.

The Student Syndrome

Wikipedia defines student syndrome as:

“Student syndrome refers to the phenomenon that many people will start to fully apply themselves to a task just at the last possible moment before a deadline. This leads to wasting any buffers built into individual task duration estimates.”

The student syndrome is not specific to students. It is very commonly observed in the project team members.

Parkinson’s Law

According to Parkinson’s Law

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

To explain this, let us take an example of a typical team member who is assigned to task A. Task A takes 3 days to finish. However considering the buffer, team member gives an estimated time of 4 days. While executing the task, if team member finishes it in 3 days, it is most unlikely that he will deliver the task at the end of third day. Instead he will do some extra effort on the task to add some nice-to-have features and deliver it on the fourth day. This has two effects – change in the scope of work; and the buffer of one day got wasted.

These two factors explains what lies at the bottom of delay in project delivery.

Other Factors

There are many other factors that can delay the project delivery. Some of these are

  • Unmanaged scope
  • Lack of change control process
  • Static project plan
  • Unable to zoom-in on the problem area

Once a project manager understands above two factors, he can take some steps to overcome this situation. In the next part of this post, I will explain how to succeed in delivering the project on time focusing on the other four factors.

Previous: The Importance of Project Milestone | Next: Delivering project on time

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