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How to facilitate a change in direction for your project

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 18th January 2020

A change of direction with a project can herald all types of problems but read on to see how you can make those changes as smoothly as possible.

In an ideal world when you begin a new project, you will have a clear end goal, a deadline and a budget. Once you have had a good chance to have assess all this then standard practice is to start planning how your project will proceed and who will take on each different task. You will work out reasonable timescales for each element of the project, assign tasks to people and then things will really begin to move forward. Of course there are relatively few projects that run exactly as you would want them to and one of the key things you will learn from experience is that you should expect the unexpected in any project that you are involved in.

So, if your project takes an unexpected swerve from the planned path what can you do to help facilitate that change?

Timescales

One of the biggest changes of direction that you might find yourself facing with your project is a change in your timescale. Whilst extra time shouldn’t really pose any problems for the project a reduction in your timescale can cause huge issues. If your timescale is suddenly reduced do not panic. The first thing you should do is gather your team together and find out exactly where you stand with regards to progress on the project schedule, it may be that a couple of team members are a little ahead of schedule. Look at what work you have left to complete on the project and see how you can use the skills of your team to achieve this. If you need extra members on the team in order to reach a new deadline then ask for them.

Look at the requests

During the course of your project it is entirely possible that you will receive many requests to change certain aspects of the project. These changes may vary from minor ones to more dramatic things that could see your project going in a completely different direction. Each request for a change should be handled the same way. Ensure that you have all the necessary information so that you can make the most informed decision possible – if some information is missing make sure that you have it before you proceed. This will make the decision on how to proceed with a change in direction as simple as possible.

Don’t be afraid to ask

Sometimes a change of direction with a project can mean major upheaval and this will undoubtedly have an impact on any budget that you might have worked out. If the changes that need to be done are simply not possible within your budget, then advise the stakeholders and project sponsor that you will need an increase in your budget in order to accommodate the changes. Have figures and timescales to hand so they can see that you have worked it all out carefully.

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