For any business, meeting deadlines is the foundation of successful customer satisfaction and retention. No client is going to stick around long if a company repeatedly misses deadlines on a regular basis.
But according to the Project Management Institute, when it comes to information projects, 60% end in “abandonment or failure because of inadequate planning, missed tasks, missed deadlines, poor project management, undelivered business requirements, or poor quality deliverables.”
Luckily, there are several ways to safeguard your company against missed project deadlines, including but not limited to careful delegation, realistic timelines, and wiggle room. We’ll explore each of these solutions and more below.
1. Delegate Carefully
Delegation is everything for businesses. It empowers your team, shows trust, and spreads responsibility throughout the entirety of the company — instead of placing it all in the hands of management. However, delegating is a delicate process.
Management must be careful not to overburden or overwhelm employees. If employees miss project deadlines repeatedly, they could have too much work and not enough time. Alternately, employees may not have enough training and knowledge to complete a project on deadline. It is up to management to decide who is best suited for which task.
2. Prioritize Wisely
Every task needs two things: a deadline and a level of priority. Managers must make their employees aware of how different assignments rank. Simply put, one assignment without a deadline could throw off an entire week of work for an employee.
There are myriad easy steps managers can take to prioritize tasks. First off, they need to collect a list of all tasks either due in a day or in a week. Then, it will be easier for them to assess the value of those tasks. Identify which assignments require immediate attention; next, put a lower priority level on tasks that are a little less demanding. This way, management and employees alike can categorize tasks as low, medium, or critical priority.
3. Realistically Estimate Project Timelines
Estimating timelines for your projects is a difficult endeavor, but not an impossible one. At the end of the day, a bad estimate is always better than no estimate.
One way to realistically estimate project timelines is to break projects into tasks. The smaller the task, the easier it is to give solid estimates. A second way to set timelines is to identify outlying factors, such as conflicts, level of access, and trial runs. For example, one team’s project may require access to another department’s work. When you’re estimating time spend, make sure to quantify cooperation and communication between departments.
4. Use Project Management Tools
Project management tools are essential to any business. Executives, managers, and employees can use project management tools as an effective means to:
- Provide a hierarchy of tasks;
- Balance resource allocation;
- Optimize internal and external communication;
- Enhance customer satisfaction, which is paramount.
Under the project management umbrella, there are several nifty tools for giving your employees and clients what they need to succeed. For example, professional services automation (PSA) allows IT to run like a well-oiled machine. PSA checks all the project management boxes, including task distribution and progress tracking, resource management, goal reporting, and data integrity auditing. Whether you’re a Managed Service Provider or your IT department provides internal support, PSA enables employees and clients to complete projects as the network runs seamlessly.
IT must provide top-notch support services to help any business meet deadlines. To that end, real-time remote monitoring enables IT to ensure essential equipment is secure and up-to-date. With RMM, you’ll identify problems before employees or clients even know about them. Then you can provide solutions to achieve a gold standard in network support.
5. Create Wiggle Room
When you’re working to meet deadlines, it’s easy to forget the importance of wiggle room — in other words, the space to make mistakes and modify them. Every task that management creates should have sufficient flex time built into it. This can make a world of difference in your employees’ workloads.
Managers can find suitable deadline dates by determining the amount of wiggle room they should build in. This is based on the level of uncertainty that comes with each task. For example, you may know that one routine task takes 20 to 30 minutes. A less common task, however, may have unknown time requirements, making it a perfect candidate for extra wiggle room.
6. Communicate Every Step of the Way
Proper communication in the workplace is vital to an organization’s ability to operate efficiently and smoothly. It can prevent problems in the first place and alleviate them before they go out of control. When everybody puts in an effort to communicate what they need, the company is more productive and better off. This is especially true when it comes to meeting project deadlines.
Communication should be a priority for all employees, including those who operate remotely. Encourage employees to communicate problems they’re facing. Give them regular updates through email and other internal channels. Perhaps most importantly, use project management software to make sure they’re on top of all pertinent details concerning ongoing projects.
7. Seek to Identify Problems Early
Employees aren’t perfect and neither are the companies they work for. Plus, as mentioned earlier, tasks may have shifting time-spend requirements. Problems may, and most likely will, arise. The key to preventing repeated missed project deadlines is to address any potential problems early and head-on.
To be proactive about problem-solving, you first need to set up a real-time remote monitoring system and then make sure everyone is aware of how it operates. Employees need to know how and where to report problems, as well as how the company handles such problems.
Managers need to meet with employees who have been missing project deadlines or who fear they may miss an upcoming project deadline. Instead of being confrontational or making assumptions, managers are best off listening to their employees’ concerns and deciding from there how to handle the situation.
8. Don’t Be Afraid To Be Firm With Clients
Clients don’t always know the amount of work and effort that goes into a project you complete for them, which can lead to unrealistic deadlines. Of course, your business wants to meet all your client’s demands, but practicality and logistics must come first. With all politeness, never be afraid to be firm with clients about deadlines and expectations.
To ease clients’ anxieties, companies should aim to operate with transparency and candor. Make sure the client sees your company as a trusted source of information and strategies. Don’t be afraid to end a client relationship if there’s no willingness on the client’s side to meet in the middle.
9. Address a Missed Deadline Professionally
Missed deadlines need to be addressed immediately and professionally — this includes both clients and employees. On one hand, clients deserve to know where the work they’re paying for is, and when it’ll arrive. On the other hand, employees and managers need to communicate why a deadline was missed and what can be done to prevent it from happening again.
10. Review Your Processes on an Ongoing Basis
Lastly, regularly reviewing your tools and processes is a must for any business — whether deadlines have been missed or not. Quality assurance allows your business to take a closer look at its everyday operations and visualize what you need to provide a better service to clients and a stronger work environment for employees.
Start with your onboarding process for new clients. If information sharing is clunky — you don’t have a single solution in place to obtain vital client information — adopt a solution that facilitates easy access. Make sure you’re gathering data to demonstrate your value right out of the gate.
Continue by prioritizing internal support to your employees as they engage with clients. Take a close look at the tools your employees are using and make sure those tools aren’t causing stress instead of helping. With a proactive effort on streamlining your business’s internal and external processes, you’ll be more likely to see success in completing projects. RMM Software, PSA and Remote Access that will change the way you run your MSP Business
See Atera in Action
RMM Software, PSA and Remote Access that will change the way you run your MSP Business