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Help your Team Manage Deadlines

May 16, 2015
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Work gets done when team members are inspired and motivated. But there is one more tool that brings about the team to work faster and better – DEADLINES.

Delivering work on time is a key objective of projects and it is important that all tasks have deadlines so that everyone knows when the work is expected to finish. Let us see how a project manager can help the team to meet deadlines -

 Plan the project -

The project manager needs to make a detailed project plan that has the project objective broken down into actionable tasks. The plan should list all tasks with start date, end date, milestones and the resources responsible for the tasks.

The estimated time for the tasks has to be realistic with some slack built in the overall timeline so that the team will have time to solve unexpected issues. The project manager should know the lead time and lag time of tasks so that they can focus on deadlines of tasks that need to be done at that time. All team members should be able to view it so that they are aware of their tasks, dependent tasks and the deadlines. This will help the project manager to understand delays and other issues.

 Communication -

The project manager is responsible to keep everyone in the project informed about project details. The project manager should be direct and transparent in communicating project related matters. The project manager needs to inform the team about their tasks well ahead in time so that the team can plan, prepare and do the work assigned to them.

The project manager can set up reminders for due dates in the official email of team members so that all are aware of their tasks and deadlines. At the same time the project manager has to be a good listener and understand suggestions, solutions, concerns, issues and feedback given by team members. He/She should understand verbal and non-verbal cues. The project manager should also ensure that team members communicate with each other and they communicate about the status of the task, progress, and issues to the project manager. 

 Right people for right tasks –

To achieve the project objectives, a variety of tasks are to be done. Different tasks need different skills and aptitude. It is important to assign the right person for the right job at the right time; else the person may not complete the task properly. For example, if an experienced Business Analyst is asked to test UI elements in a complex process oriented project, he/she might not be too happy doing it and feel demotivated.
The project manager has to understand team members and assign appropriate tasks to each of them.

 Find out why some team members cannot meet deadlines

In a realistic scenario, there will always be tasks that miss deadlines. If too many team members keep missing the deadlines, the project manager can get flustered and the project objectives might not be met. The project manager might also start nagging or distrusting the team members if they keep asking for more time to complete a task and keep bringing up issues whenever the deadlines are being discussed.
The project manager can deal with these issues in different ways -

  • The manager should try to find out why the task cannot be completed on time and take steps accordingly. It could be unclear requirements, lack of skills or low motivational levels etc.
  • The project manager should have regular meetings to find out the status of the tasks so that red flags can be seen ahead in time.
  • The project manager can have a proactive questioning approach with people who are missing deadlines or in the danger of missing deadlines. For example, he/she can ask the team member to explain the steps needed to finish the task. In this discussion, steps to be taken, information needed, possible obstacles and steps to take to overcome these will be articulated.
  • These steps will ensure that the resource takes ownership for the tasks.
  • Enable the team to meet project deadlines

The project manager has to enable the team to work on the tasks comfortably. The team members should be kept away from unnecessary pressure from senior management and clients. It is important to maintain a fine balance between giving independence to the team to do their tasks and controlling their time and tasks. The project manager should organize the tasks but should not micro manage them. The project manager should use proper software to enable team members to view their tasks and the task details, get notifications, track their progress and be able to view the overall status of the project.

It is important not to miss project deadlines. At the same time, it is important to give the team the right environment that enables them to complete their tasks on time as per requirements. The project manager should know the project objectives, team members and have a complete picture of the project status so that he/she can take the right steps to ensure that deadlines are not missed and the project is delivered successfully.


About the Author

Vidya Kumar is a management graduate with 14 years of experience in the IT industry managing complex Software Projects across various industry verticals. She has around 6 years experience in content development. She has co-authored two eBooks and writes regularly on personal finance, IT, travel and other business topics.


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