your project is going to be late - how to break the news

You know your project is going to be late, but your boss does not and worse yet, the customer does not know.  You laid your best plans and gave your best effort in telling everyone when you would be done.  You feel confident that you would have had enough time if you weren’t answering questions, putting out fires or attending meetings you didn’t know why you were attending. 

Mompreneur on Fire - Late Project

Hello – you have work to do! 

In the end, you finally sat down and realized, this work is going to need more time. 

And the worst part is - the due date is right around the corner. 

When you do your best, speak openly and honestly, it's respected.  It's appreciated.  It fosters engagement and a willingness to work together. 

So now you have talk with your client and boss that the project is not going as smoothly as you hoped.  What do you?

6 Steps - How To Tell Your Boss the Project Will Be Late: 

1. Determine what you can do on-time.  Can you do 50%? 80%?  Can you do all of the major work but not the nice and pretty stuff? 

2. Determine how much more time would you require to finish the entire thing.  And determine how much time it will take finish the core piece. 

3. Determine whose help, if any, you require to complete the project on time.  Is there someone else who can focus on other details while you hunker down?

4. Next, schedule a meeting for today with the person responsible for the delivery of this project.  That could be the Project Manager, your boss, your Client, the Project Coordinator; it could be a variety of people.  Don’t delay and spend days working on this knowing that you won’t be able to deliver. And if there is no free time on their calendar, walk to their office.  If they are out of the office – email, call, or tell them you require 5 five minutes of their time. (If you can’t get in the door, then that is another issue all together!)

5. In your meeting, in a calm, conversational manner, this is what you SAY:  

I need to give you an update on the project.  As I am looking at the work, I realize it is going to take me X number of hours to complete the task as it stands now and I will have a hard time delivering by the due date.  

I have determined that with X person’s help, we could work together and deliver on time.  Or without (name part of the project) I can deliver that to you on time.  

Where do you want me to focus my efforts? On completing the task with the new deadline?  Gaining assistance from X person and working together to complete the project on time? Or completing the task without certain bells and whistles?

6. Proceed as determined between you and your counterpart.  

Mompreneur on Fire - Late Project 2

I have seen many people panic, work unbelievable hours and run around like their head has been cut off because they are fearful of telling “bad” news to their boss or client.  

In my experience managing many large projects, 99% of the time people are understanding when you are honest with them.  Isn't that the most respectful trait?  

How many of us have started a project or task and once in it, realized that it is going to take longer than expected? Doesn’t it seem that everything you do takes longer than expected??  By working with your lead, boss, and customer on delivery dates as an active, moving piece on what can reasonably be delivered, you are not only managing expectations but forming a deeper working relationship with this group of vitally important people in your career. 

Now, I have given you the steps, the words even, to have the conversation.  

Practice if you need to, come in a manner of openness and good luck!

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