If you’re a Project Manager, you have been through this millions of times, right? Phrases like “I need to get better at delivering on time”, “something is preventing the developer from delivering her task on time”, “how do I tell the client that function won’t be ready on the estimated time” come to mind and can be a source of anxiety, profitability, even legal issues related to late or non-delivery…So the question is, how do I avoid these all-too-common pitfalls?

 

You have a big project, everything is going well, everyone working as they should be, but there’s a task that someone has to review or check and simply it’s taking too long and you can’t wait any longer?

 

Well, it happens a lot, and I would say blockers and impediments are an inevitable part of any project. As Project Managers blockers are our bread and butter, we live and die by our ability to maneuver and solve issues that can affect the work of others or the deliverable. And in doing so we help reduce personal and project issues such as team frustration, project and budget overrun, changed priorities, and overtime. And then everyone hails us as heroes. No, wait!

 

Yes I know, I know… here’s the meaty part. First, blockers and impediments happen when something unforeseen (eg. task prolongation, unforeseen new work, new dependency, lack of resources) interrupts or stops a workflow and has a negative effect on other tasks and overall delivery. Below are a few actionable ways to anticipate and solve these scenarios in our day-to-day work.

 

  1. If the person responsible for the blocked/impeded issue in your team has to review and QA the code of the developer, you might ask him/her for priority status\ and start negotiating time, for example: the review will take 3 hours, recommend to use one hour each day until is done and its current priorities won’t suffer serious knock-on effects.

 

  1. You have a team right? A great one, where everyone is very good at what they do! And that’s great, but have you ever thought about taking the time some time to train someone to know what others do? Keeping the team aligned and informed helps ensure that they also help in the anticipation and mitigation of blocking/impeding issues before they arise and help solve them once they do. Train, inform, consult; look at it as an investment in the team.

 

  1. And sometimes you find someone that just gets distracted by other things, so in this case, organise priorities and delivery dates, ask every day for status and what was done, be firm if you have to and follow up with your team everyday in order to be on top of the situation if any problem or delay comes up. Make productivity part of your organization’s culture.

 

And remember, we always have to think what’s best for our team and our clients, if we don’t do it no one else will so let’s keep it straight for everyone: talk with the team on daily basis because if the team is hindered continuously this can become a habit. And it’s your job to avoid that. Otherwise you risk unhappy clients, unprofitable projects and team members lacking in motivation.

 

See you next one!