How to deal with deliverable delays and manage changes in task leads?

How to deal with deliverable delays and manage changes in task leads?
What if after the warnings to partners, and evaluating the situation, you concluded you need a drastic change?


In my previous blog on “how to prevent deliverable delays and avoid changes in task leads” I mentioned the preventive steps to avoid these problems, but, what if after the warnings to partners, and evaluating the situation, you concluded you need a drastic change? If you are in this situation, please keep reading.  

If you reached the point of having to implement corrective measures, you are familiar with the 8 steps described in the previous blog post. Let’s pick up at step 7 and talk more about executing Plan B, assuming the problem you would like to solve is a change in the task lead because of a non-performing partner and prevent more delays in the submission of a key deliverable. 

At this point, you already have found a “substitute” partner who will carry out the work, and have offered an increase in their efforts for taking over the task, however, the first step to executing a Plan B is to check your current resources; as described in step 7 before, you need to check how many Person Months (PMs) are assigned to the [non-performing] task leader, how much is their rate and compare it to what you have offered to the “new lead” partner. In most cases, their PM rates will be different, and if the PM rate of the “new lead” partner is higher (it is the usual case) than that of the non-performing one, then you need to compensate the difference by reducing the offer with half a PM (0.5). For example, if the non-performing partner originally had 2 PMs and their PM rate is 3 600 EUR, you cannot offer 2 PMs to the “new lead” who has a PM rate of 5 300 EUR. You would need to offer 1.5 PMs to compensate for the higher “new lead” rate.  

Agreeing to these terms with the non-performing partner might test your diplomatic and management skills, thus, make sure you are prepared to have that conversation, this means: a. you have agreed with the “new lead”, b. you have carefully checked the project budget and Gantt chart enough to be familiar with any questions about the task implementation, c. you have carefully read the task description in the DoA (Description of Action) and know exactly what is supposed to happen and when. Make sure to communicate the resource re-allocation in written, so that the partner is already aware of the measures you would like to take. When the day comes, communicate firmly but make sure to come across as an understanding and flexible coordinator, which has taken preventative measures to avoid getting there, but at this point it is necessary to make concrete amendments.  

After this is agreed with both parties (the non-performing one and “new lead” partner), which hopefully will not take endless email exchanges, it is time to communicate it to your Project Officer (PO). It is very important to be as concrete and informative as possible, in terms of: a. requesting a deadline extension and b. re-allocation of PMs from one partner to another. Describe the situation briefly and offer to have a video call if further clarification is needed.  

In some cases, the PO does not take too long to answer, in some “easy” cases, they might reply the same day agreeing to the corrective measures. An “easy” case could be described as a non-performing partner accepting the transfer of 2 PMs and the request of an extension would be of 1 month. The PO will modify the deadline of the deliverable and approve the re-allocation. Make sure you get written confirmation of all these agreements in case the video call is necessary.  

Ideally, the new task leader should present to you and the “non-performing” partner a plan in a video call, so that everybody is aware of the next steps.    

Lastly, don’t forget to inform all parties about the change in the lead as well as the extension of the deliverable deadline. This step includes informing the full consortium. They also need to be involved in the communication as the new task leader might request information/input from them to implement the task and write the deliverable. 

For more on this topic and the full overview of how to manage and report your project smoothly, save one of the last spots at the Master of Project Management and Reporting in Vienna on 11-13 December 2023. Check out the agenda and sign up here!

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