George carries a worried look on his face.
“Surely, this can’t be happening thrice in a month.” he murmurs to himself. The clients and bosses are getting mad at him for assigned projects that could not be completed within set dates.
Sitting alone in his cabin in office, as he waits for his team members to arrive for an ‘emergency’ meeting he scheduled, George just can’t figure out what exactly is going wrong and why.
Before the business, he’s working for starts to earn a ‘negative’ reputation among clients, and before his bosses issue him a ‘final warning’ for regularly missing deadlines, he and his team has to get its act right by finding the root cause of the problem and then working hard (and smart too) to get things moving on the right track again.
At some point or the other, we all have been in a situation similar to the one being faced by George? Haven’t we?
Ask any project manager what is their biggest fear at work and you are likely to hear – “Missed Deadlines”. Though you are not alone who has had to deal with this problem when it starts to happen more often than not it is time for some serious thinking. And, this is exactly what we are going to discuss in this post.
Why Your Team Is Missing Deadlines
Remember, missing deadlines doesn’t always mean your team is incompetent. There could be a number of different reasons for the same. Before you can start trying to fix the problem, make sure you’ve known where it’s coming from.
Here are some strong reasons as to why you and your teams could be consistently off the mark.
- Lack of Real Pressure
For deadlines to be effective, some real pressure has to be there. You don’t create pressure by screaming and yelling at your team all the time. However, you should mince no words while making it clear that each team member would be held accountable and responsible for their actions or lack thereof.
- Unrealistic Deadlines
There’s nothing wrong with stretching goals to push your team a bit hard, but setting ridiculous goals that can burn out your team is not going to do you, your team, and your business any favor.
When the team knows that deadlines remain unachievable even if they work hard, they’ll rarely strive hard to meet them. You need to create deadlines that are realistically achievable so that your team respects them.
- Poor Time Management
Poor time management is probably the biggest reason for missed deadlines. Employees are not keeping track of the time spent on their tasks. In fact, a big part of their task is spent on unproductive activities. As a result of this, the ‘productive’ hours recorded are less than what they had anticipated in the first place.
- Unclear Expectations
How can you expect your team to meet the deadlines when they do not have a clear picture of when a deadline is? Lack of clarity in what the teams are supposed to do and by when leads to misinterpretations, and that’s what allows both sides (manager and team) to have their versions (assumed) of when a task is supposed to be completed.
- Inadequate Communication
No project, big or small, can be completed successfully on time if all team members are not on the same page. Not using the right communication channels to pass information or take feedback accurately and timely could be a reason here. If the chain of communication is broken, it can lead to setbacks, which may eventually cause missed deadlines.
Missed deadlines are all too common across all types of businesses. Fortunately, ever-evolving technology has empowered us to do our work in the most efficient manner possible.
Here, I am sharing with you a list of five top-rated project management tools that can help you and your team to organize and manage projects, and ensure they are delivered on time:
Nimble is a social sales and marketing CRM that helps small and medium-sized businesses meet deadlines effortlessly. You can track team performance, check who’s working on what, manage multiple projects at once, and much more using Nimble. Nimble’s primary focus is to simplify CRM by collating all customer data in a single place.
- Today Page
- Relationship Management
- Live Profiles
- Saves time with efficient contact management
- Proactive customer engagement
- Sell smarter with Nimble Email marketing and Tracking
- Leverage social insights
- No project invoicing feature
- Complex user interface
- Nimble Business: $19/user/month
ProofHub is an industry-leading all-in-one project management & collaboration software with all the right features that a team needs to work productively. You can organize projects, create tasks with deadlines, and assign them, track the project’s progress, track time, create custom reports, white-label your brand, manage schedules, and much more. There’s an online proofing tool as well to help you review creative work effortlessly, and a dedicated space to carry out real-time discussions.
- Task management
- Custom workflows and kanban boards
- Online proofing
- Custom roles
- In-built chat app
- Custom reports
- Gantt charts
- Flexible task management
- Powerful collaboration features
- No per-user pricing
- Easy-to-use interface
- Replaces the many tools you use with a single powerful app
- Limited app integrations
- Essential Plan is for $45/month
- Ultimate Control Plan with unlimited users for $89/month (limited time offer).
Asana is one of the best cloud-based task management tools for teams to easily manage both simple and complex projects. The tool is flexible and you can customize it to work in a way that suits you best, and allows businesses and teams of any size to handle multiple projects at a time.
- Portfolio Management
- Project Process Automation
- Workload Management
- Views and Reporting
- Visualize project timelines easily
- Simplifies tracking deadlines
- Task automation
- Keep projects organized in one place
- Limited exporting functionality
- Complex to use for new users
- Premium plan is for $10.99 per user/month
- Business plan is for $24.99 per user/month
- Enterprise plan is available on quote
Wrike is a SaaS product that helps users manage projects from start to finish, combining simple user experience and interface with adequate depth for power users. It is packed with features to simplify project planning, centralize communication, and streamline workflow.
- Live Editor
- Gantt Chart
- Collaboration and Reporting
- Organized File Management
- Visual Timelines
- Project Budgeting
- Issue Tracking
- Streamlined workflow
- Reporting tools for improved project visibility
- Flexible project templates
- Powerful proofing tool
- Expensive for small teams and freelancers
- No invoicing feature
- Professional plan is for $9.80 per user/month
- Business plan is for $24.80 per user/month
- Enterprise plan is available on quote
Hive is a cloud-based, powerful project management solution designed for businesses of all sizes and types, who are looking to improve productivity and process management. Hive is a flexible tool that allows users to switch between views that are most relevant and meaningful to their work.
- Project Layouts
- Automated Workflows
- Action Templates
- Special Views
- Proofing & Approvals
- Hive Analytics
- Timesheets & Timesheet Reporting
- Highly customizable and versatile
- Robust customer support
- Numerous integrations
- Task cards are easy to use
- Gives actionable insights into team productivity
- Not very easy to navigate
- Permanent file deletion
- Less responsive phone app
- Base package is from $12 per user/month
- Enterprise plan is available on quote
To Sum It Up
Missing deadlines is not uncommon, but if your team has developed a bad habit of missing the mark regularly you need to take remedial action without wasting time. Talk to your team and find out what’s causing missed deadlines, and try to figure out an effective solution that works for all.
I am sure the aforementioned project management tools can help you and your team get rid of loopholes in the workflow and set priorities right. But before you choose any of them, don’t forget to discuss with your team and see what they need – only then select any of the project management tools mentioned above.
Vartika Kashyap is the Chief Marketing Officer at ProofHub — a project planning software proofhub.com for teams of all sizes. She is one of the LinkedIn Top Voices in 2018. Her articles are inspired by office situations and work-related events. She likes to write about productivity, team building, work culture, leadership, entrepreneurship among others and contributing to a better workplace is what makes her click.