What happens when you constantly meet all the deadlines set in a project by you and your client? You become more successful, productive, and confident. So, one shouldn't miss them, right? Yet, there are projects where deadlines are pushed, maybe because the developers didn't do their work on time or the client didn't give thorough details about the project.
In some cases, managers start micromanaging the team at every step to keep the project's progress on track. This is not always a good move as and hampers the professional relationship. It is also time-consuming for the managers.
Why Do Developers Miss Deadlines?
Developers don't miss the deadlines intentionally. Nothing good comes out of missing deadlines. So, why does it happen? Let's find out.
We have tool-1 that gets the job done, and we also have tool-2 that gets the job done quickly and more efficiently. With each task, each day, and an easy stage in a development project, tool-2 would be far ahead of tool-1. And, if your team is still using tool-1, they are likely to struggle to meet deadlines because the expectations will be set based on what's the latest technology is available for the task.
For example, what if you want to have a meeting with someone? Would you send your ambassador with a message or a pigeon with the message tied to its foot, or would you write the other a mail and post it through the post office? All these were popular means to connect with people, right? But would you still use these? I don't think so. You would simply create a meeting link, email, or phone the person. The tools and technology have quickened the process. The same goes for the development projects. The old-school tools will take more time, and the developers will miss the deadlines.
You can call it ineffective meetings as well. According to GitLab's survey, developers say that unnecessary meetings take a lot of their precious time. Remember, the unnecessary meetings only. If there's something important to share, like a change in the project's direction, it must be conveyed to the whole team. It's the project managers' job to keep the meetings to the point, resolve queries, and take the project ahead from there. And have a single channel communication for the project so that one message gets delivered to the whole team. They don't have to go the repetitive meetings and discuss the same thing over and over again.
Lack of Communication
If the developers have a doubt about anything (which is obvious in any project), they reach out to the Project Manager. And project manager can clear it sometimes, but sometimes, the PM has to discuss it with the client first. Until a legitimate answer or solution is provided, the work gets stuck. No one's at fault in this case. Doubts and questions can arise at any time in a project.
There might be some points that can be cleared just by previewing the Project Required Document. In that case, it would be useless to go to the client and ask the same thing again and again. Having strong communication can reduce the delay in genuine cases.
Lack of communication causes confusion, and once that takes place in the team, the expectations are mismanaged. It could be about project complexity or settling for the too aggressive deadline by the managers without knowing whether it is feasible. And, once the seniors say yes to such project requests, they start putting pressure on the team to finish the job on time. If the developers fail to complete the code and deliver the product on deadline, they will deliver an incomplete code. This issue also has communication as its base.
Client Adds Up New Requests
A client or product owner's mind explodes with new ideas regarding the same product. This sometimes leads to inserting new feature requests in the project during the development stage, and that too without pushing the deadline ahead. Clients don't understand the gravity of their requests. The complete coding style might have to disrupt to add a little feature that was completely unknown to the developers initially. The developers can easily insert any feature in the product if they know the future scope or features to add in the next build beforehand. They would then leave the scope to edit the code easily.
How Can We Fix the Missed-Deadline Issue?
Good communication channels and cross-functional teams must be created so that everyone understands that they are equally responsible for the successful project they are working on. A simple handover to another team when one team's job is done is not an effective method. For example, once the design is done, it must be packaged well before handing it over to the developer. Our guide to the right way to hand over UI/UX designs to developers can help.
Each designer and developer should understand his/her own responsibility and take the initiative to effectively communicate with other team members and departments.
For Project Managers
Equip your team with the right and updated tools. Imagine you show up at a doctor's clinic, and the doctor is holding century-old tools to treat you? You wouldn't like that, would you? The updated tools are in demand because they make the job quick and easy for the developers. From communication channels to development tools and reporting tools, everything must be in sync like a beautiful Beethoven composition.
Project Managers and Customer Success Managers are the bridge between a client and the developers. It is their job to make a smooth ride for both parties so that the delivery convoy carrying the project arrives on time.
Create small iterations or milestones for your project. Strip your one big project into small mini projects with features listed as necessary features, good-to-have features, and premium features. Create a master sheet and list all these features so that the developers can understand the future scope of the project too. This also makes it easy for everybody on board to have more clarity on what needs to be done at each stage.
We cannot have a machine or a process that is 100% perfect. Even after you implement the best strategies, you will still have delays in a project or two. Maybe your best developer quit the job or is not well enough to continue the project, or a pandemic such as COVID can hit you. That also doesn't mean we should improve. Learning and improving should be in our nature. We do it to grow in our work and not for achieving 100% perfection.