Identifying a piece of work as a project is the first step in achieving the deadline

As law firms professionalise their organisation, business services people are increasingly required to manage projects. But why do these projects so frequently overrun their deadlines?


One of the reasons might be unrealistic planning and one of the causes of unrealistic planning is that we have not identified the work as a project. In the sense that we don’t plan it as seriously as we do with ‘big projects’.


What is a project? A project can be defined as any piece of work which involves a number of people and takes a number of days to complete. The implication of identifying a piece of work as a project is that it requires a more considered approach.


Why do we need to define a piece of work as a project? Because once we have identified a piece of work as a project we can apply project planning tools. Sometimes we don’t recognise a piece of work to be as complex as it really is. If we underestimate its complexity then we may not plan it properly, leading us to underestimate the time required to achieve the deadline.


When we properly plan a project we start to identify and better understand its complexity.


How many times have you run a project only to identify new aspects such as complexities or interdependencies, during the piece of work, but which on reflection could have been identified at the outset?


We could say that things always take longer than we expect. Not necessarily that the work tasks take longer to do, but that it takes longer to get to that piece of work because other work takes priority. But proper project planning can take these factors into account.


The first step to achieving more deadlines is the realistic identification of work as a project and then the application of project planning tools to that work.


Take a look at your current workload and see how many pieces of work you have project planned and how many you have just got on with. Reflect on the impact proper project planning might have had on this second group.


When we run project planning training, nine times out ten the participants who are applying our planning tools to their projects identify complexities which result in extending their deadline to be more realistic.


We will look at how to plan projects in future posts.


If you have experiences of this subject please write your thoughts below by clicking on the ‘no comment’.

Project Management – why do projects frequently go over their deadline?

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