Why Do Work Projects Take So Long?

Adriana Girdler

As published in Association Magazine February/March 2013, page 10 It’s the question no employee ever wants to hear from their superior: “Why hasn’t this project been …

As published in Association Magazine
February/March 2013, page 10

It’s the question no employee ever wants to hear from their superior: “Why hasn’t this project been completed yet?”

Bob Seger may have provided the answer in his 1980 hit song, “Against the Wind,” when he simply said: “deadlines and commitments.”Turtle Crossing

The problem in today’s work environment is that there are simply too many deadlines and commitments for any association to run effectively and efficiently. Small projects quickly turn into bigger ones, with the infamous statement: “I want you to add [insert favour or task] to your project…it’s really easy and won’t impact a thing.” So now, what was supposed to take a month or even a quarter now takes twice as long, without any additional funding or resources. Yet, the train still inches down the track and now management is pushing even harder for additional items to be completed in the same time frame, with the same resource allocations and budget.

It’s a common denominator amongst big business today. Projects are simply taking far too long to complete. And the reasons are few but very simple, and quite visible to anyone who may take the time to stand up from the cubicle and look around.

For any project to have a reasonable chance of success—that is, coming in on time, on budget and, most importantly, on scope—it has to have that magic elixir called “Leadership”.

Leadership comes in two forms: the project leader and, perhaps most importantly, the sponsorship leader. The sponsor is the person at the top of the organization chart who is supposed to support the project manager’s decisions and remove roadblocks to ensure success.

The sponsor must believe in the project, engage and endorse the project manager, and not be the one to throw a monkey wrench into the works. The project manager must be free from the political game. Their job is to do what is right for the association and to bring forth issues that need to be addressed, or escalated to the sponsor for roadblock removal. Unfortunately, this leadership is missing in many of today’s associations.

Leadership makes projects move forward, avoiding the ‘circle syndrome’ of nothing getting done, deadlines being missed, and projects lasting forever.

If not, the following occurs, and you may even recognize these symptoms:

  • The lack of consequences for something not getting done. We’ve all seen ‘Bob’ show up at a meeting without having his action item completed from the last project meeting. What happens to Bob? Most likely, nothing.
  • The workplace where everything is a priority. Something MUST be a bigger priority here than everything else, yet no one knows what that is. Not prioritizing key initiatives is one of the leading roadblocks in any association.
  • Everyone pulled in too many directions. For many employees, their “to do” lists read like the weekly grocery shopping list. Effective leaders should observe employee workloads and make necessary adjustments in order to ease the load.
  • Project team meetings should be resolution meetings. Too many of these gabfests are simply update meetings. What actually gets done in an update meeting? Most often the team members update each other on the various status of items associated with the project, with the classic “that should be done in the next two weeks” explanation. Wrong answer. These updates should happen electronically between meetings, so that every team member knows that the upcoming meeting is a resolution and decision-making meeting.

It really isn’t that hard to move from the quicksand to the asphalt for any project team, leader or association. An audit of how your association actually runs and manages work projects can result in smooth sailing in the future, instead of just running against the wind.



Thanks For Sharing!

Photo of author

Adriana Girdler is a project manager, productivity specialist, entrepreneur, professional speaker, facilitator, visioning wizard, and author. As President of CornerStone Dynamics, Adriana is one of Canada’s prominent business productivity and project management specialists—helping both individuals and businesses do what they do, only better. She is a certified master black belt lean six sigma with over 20 years’ experience improving how companies work.

She also holds both PMP (project management professional) and CET (certified engineering technologist) designations. She’s a Tedx speaker, as well as a HuffPost and Thrive Global contributor. She has been interviewed on Global, CBC, CTV, CHCH, 680News Radio, Newstalk 1010, Sirius XM and published in the Globe and Mail and numerous industry magazines. WANT ADRIANA'S FREE ONLINE TRAINING? In 45 min, learn Adriana's 5 project management secrets she use on EVERY project. Sign up for the Free Webinar here: THE FAB FIVE FUNDAMENTALS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

SLAY Project Management

Online Course

5 Sections and 24 step-by-step HOW TO Videos! The only 5-hour on-line course that teaches you the PRACTICAL side of project management. This course will guide you step-by-step on HOW to successfully run a project and provides you with all the templates and tips you need to be successful.

Fab 5 Fundamentals

Free Training

Are you striving for successful projects, but get overwhelmed figuring out what elements of project management to focus on for the best results? In the Fab Five Fundamentals of Project Management, you’ll learn the five things you need to do on EVERY project to bring it to success.

Why Projects Fail?

Free Download

If you're new to projects or need a refresher, here's a guide of all the things I learned during my journey. Project success is about knowing how to navigate and stay clear of roadblocks, issues and problems. Understand the top 10 reasons why projects fail and how to avoid them.

Interested In Working Together?

We are business productivity experts. Contact us to learn how we can help your business become more efficient and increase profitability.

Join Our Newsletter

Join over 50,000 subscribers. Get the latest and the best in project management information delivered straight to your inbox.

Follow Us