Why is it that as deadlines or milestones get near, people get busy? There can be a real rush generated in a project perceived as having just about feasible time remaining. This can also be complicated by the fact that within project there is often a mix of long and short-term projects, so teams are working to different rhythms.
Creating a uniform achievable rhythm on major programmes can be a significant challenge. Supply chains are now global and a more and more competitive market makes haste seem essential. Teams many not be within close geographic proximity and individual project teams can be working in multiple time zones, with suppliers working for multiple clients.
Clear communication of meaningful milestones from the central Programme Management team coupled with stage gates to assess the readiness of the programme to proceed are vital but there are key things to check:
Make sure you have just one set of key milestones, it’s amazing how often there are multiple sets of dates. To set realistic stage gate markers, work backwards from the key milestone to determine what needs to have been achieved by when. Create the right culture by incentivising project teams and suppliers with clear terms of reference and contracts, but personalise the relationship beyond this. Take an interest.
Last but not least communicate, communicate, communicate. HPS know only too well that despite one set of dates and the best laid plans internal project teams or external suppliers have not been clear or failed to understand the importance of expected delivery dates and things fall apart.