Going over budget and managing lead times is a recurring challenge facing the manufacturing industry. Only 30 percent of large projects in the energy industry are delivered on budget, and only 15 percent of projects are completed on time. Project deadline is usually missed due to imperfect timeline and budgeting, blind trust towards people or uncontrollable changes in the economy. We’ve gathered 10 easy steps how to avoid missing deadlines.
1. Confirm a timeline with a buffer
It’s common for projects to run overtime due to underestimation of necessary time. Limited resources, changing demands and project scope… will probably lead to the “if I had just one more day” moment. Evaluate the time you’ll need, add a couple more weeks and confirm that timeline with a client.
2. Set an internal project deadline
You probably are doing it already, but adding a buffer is also helpful when it comes to internal deadlines. Set a earlier due date to your workers and partners than what you agreed to with your client. This allows making any improvements and correct mistakes ahead of schedule.
3. Know your priorities
It’s important to identify key performance indexes (KPI) with your client during the project planning phase. Good performance indexes include the main objectives of your project. They help in keeping you on the right track, doing the most important tasks and deciding the next steps.
Additional time expenditure comes from waiting for the right person to say “yes” or receiving confirmations for your request for quotes (RFQ). Switching numbers between budget rows can take longer than production itself. To ease and speed up the decision process, Fractory has created a platform where you can get instant pricing on your laser cutting needs.
5. Break your project up to small tasks
Bigger projects often involve more people and factors, whose combination can create a project delay. Break up your project to smaller manageable tasks. We recommend researching, how other similar projects were done – you’ll get ideas and support to your vision.
6. Stay focused
It’s human nature to keep switching between work, but even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time. Take the time to concentrate on one single task, and move on only after finishing the first one. We know it’s hard, but give it a try.
7. Use project management software
Following project milestones is more comprehensive when gathering tasks into one project tracking application. Use project management tools like Scoro, Trello, Asana or even a simple Excel worksheet. Something to set assignments, analyze results, stay in budget and remind deadlines. If your company has created its own system – use it!
It helps to keep your team on the same page, making it easier to stay focused and prioritize on what’s important.
Think critically, what processes in your project can be outsourced. It will free up your in-house resources to focus on more important, revenue-creating tasks. The more you find work that can be outsourced, the more you’ll manage to stay on time.
9. Have a Plan B
Setbacks happen and surprises will arise. Think of alternative ways even before starting. Having multiple options will reduce pressure in the most stressful moments.
10. Ask advice
Most probably, similar projects have already been implemented. Explore who they chose partners, how they tackled problems etc. Reach out to colleagues and mentors to ask “What should I take into account?”, “What else could happen?”. Their advice could save you time and money.
Although going over project deadline and budget is common in manufacturing, you don’t have to follow the same route. Add a timeline buffer, prioritize, decide, delegate, use project management tools and always have a Plan B in your back pocket.