How to Manage Project Delays
While agile development has challenges around fast release cycles, working with minimal documentation, and dynamic requirements to constantly juggle, it has a lot of positives to offer—fast time to market, effective control of cost and quality constraints, better connection between end users and requirements, and enhanced chances of recovery from failure.
Despite its dynamic landscape, one other interesting benefit that agile offers is a reduced chance of project delays. A report from The Standish Group finds agile to be three times more successful than the waterfall lifecycle, mapping success to on time, on budget, and planned feature release.
We often attribute project delays to internal reasons, such as poor management, lack of collaboration, resource issues, and software quality. Delaying a release due to software quality is definitely one of the right reasons. End users have reached a good level of maturity and are able to understand and accept project delays due to quality reasons. Recent delays from Micromax and One M9 were attributed to the less than desirable quality of the product.
Project delays may fall into a larger spectrum than what we often imagine, and some of these are triggered by reasons that are even beyond comprehension of the core project team or the user base. Amazon recently abruptly delayed its Treasure Truck rollout for reasons that cannot be fully understood by the masses.
Project stakeholders and sponsors, who may appear to be disconnected from the day-to-day project execution, are closely monitoring feedback from product quality reports, end users, and the market in order to make the “go” or “no go” decision. In some rare cases, users have delayed projects to show their dominance during user acceptance testing.
Project delays are not always objective or black and white. There are a lot of grey areas, and it is important—and challenging—for management to communicate delays with the required level of transparency and clarity to team members and end users to retain team motivation, keep the project under control, and uphold goodwill with users. In addition to emails, press releases may also be required to broadcast the delay to a larger audience.
You always want to minimize your delays, as every delay has a certain cost associated with it. Delays may be inevitable for reasons beyond the team’s control. In these cases, effective handling of the delay helps minimize the cost of the delay and allows the team to focus on releasing the product at the earliest possible time rather than fighting issues from users and other associated product entities.