Thursday, August 7, 2008

The tail end is the longest

Anyone who has worked on custom training projects can tell you that end phase of a project is always in jeopardy of dragging on...and on...and on. Launch delays, final approvals, changes in stakeholders can all cause a project to last weeks, months longer than the original project timeline anticipated.

The problem with this is not only in the time that you continue to spend on a project that should be over, but the costs of time and resources that are spent on the "tail" and the opportunity costs, which are almost immeasurable. It's a hazard of the business for sure, but one that can be alleviated a bit with a few strategies:

-Change orders: keep close watch on the original project scope and talk to the client early and often if a project is dragging on out of that scope. Charge for the difference.
-Don't spend time on a project if the client isn't: sometimes projects just don't launch. Yes, your ego may want to see the fruits of your labor being used, but it doesn't always happen. If the client has let something die, so should you.
-Send a final invoice: often what keeps us paying attention to the tail of a project is the trigger to send a final invoice. Just send it. It lets the client know that the project should be wrapping up and hopefully will light a fire to get them to close it.

Take your lagging projects by the tail to make sure you don't blow your project profitability down the stretch.

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