Project failures, project management, errors, mistakes, when things go wrong, fixing mistakes

When things go wrong with your project

How ironic that I wrote last week about whether to do the National Census or not and turns out most people couldn’t do it anyway. The site crashed and no-one could log in. What a major stuff up!!

Perfect timing to talk about what to do when things go wrong with your project. The Census highlighted if anything, that nothing is immune to stuff ups, mistakes and failures. Very rarely does anything run smoothly and to plan. No matter what you plan to do, there is bound to be road bumps and hiccups along the way.

The stuff ups and failures that you and I encounter within our property projects may not ever get to the magnitude of the stuff up that was the National Census 2016, but even if they do, it’s not the actual stuff ups and errors that dictate the outcome of our projects, it’s how we choose to deal with them, learn from them and move on.

Of course, you can absolutely minimise the chances of things going wrong on all your projects with diligent planning, preparation and monitoring, but ultimately there will be times where things will, and do, go wrong due to systems failures, poor communication or simply circumstances beyond your control.

For example, A tiler may have bought the wrong coloured grout to site and failed to check the work order thoroughly before grouting all the wet areas. Or your electrician may have had problems with his email and did not get the latest set of plan revisions. Not to mention issues with machinery breakdowns, terrible weather or unexpected delays in applications and approvals. Some things, you just can’t control.

So if we can’t control or stop all stuff ups and errors within a property projects, how can we deal with them?

The best way to deal with things going wrong on your project:

1. Assess the magnitude of the failure – Often when things go wrong, they initially look worse than they actually are. But until you fully assess the damage, you can’t work out how to rectify it. As quickly as you can, identify what went wrong and why.

2. Evaluate as soon as possible the best course of action to rectify the situation – The biggest problem with stuff-ups and errors are that they lead to a blow out of the timeline and the budget . If something has gone wrong, everything will likely come to a stand still until the problem is assessed and rectified. Once you have worked out what has gone wrong, you can work out the best course of action to get the project back on track as soon as possible to minimise the impact on both time and money.

3. Re-adjust your timeline & budget to factor in any cost and time over runs – Once you have a plan to move on from the stuff up, you need to re-asses your schedule and budget. If you can move quickly to rectify the stuff up and come up with a solution, then the impact will be minimised to both delays to your schedule and cost over-runs with the budget.

4. And finally assess if there was anything that could have been done to prevent the stuff up in the first place – Of course, you would have worked out what went wrong in step 2, but once your project is back on course, it’s good to take stock of what has occurred, get a true picture of the situation and adjust your systems and processes going forward to minimising or eliminating the stuff up happening again.

Again, if you spend the time to plan out your project and monitor it closely as it progresses, you can pick up any minor hiccups before they become major errors… Well before you have a debacle on your hands of Census 2016 proportions.

And always remember that Murphy’s Law dictates that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong”, so even though everything is running smoothly it may be best not to count your chickens before they hatch. Because no doubt, just like the ABS has discovered, as soon as you declare the system is secure and nothing can go wrong, something will.

Until next time…

Katie Marshall - Chicks and Mortar

Chicks and Mortar – Building property confidence

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