Looming deadlines, anxious stakeholders, high pressure. Even if the project is going well, a medical device project manager is familiar with this. So what happens when that project falls behind schedule? What if, despite everything you have done to avoid project delay, your medical device shows no signs of reaching the market on time? What do you do then?
We have two words for you: Proactive action.
Let’s explore the steps you can take when your medical device project falls behind schedule.
1. Start by conducting a GAP Analysis
To understand why you are not on track with your medical device project, you need to know where you are currently. With GAP analysis, you can determine what’s needed to bridge that gap.
- What is the actual state of your project?
- What factors are contributing to its delay?
- What role did you and your team play in the delay?
Answer these questions honestly and have a dialogue with your team about the challenges you’re facing and how to address them. Analyze the facts and be honest with yourself and your team about your findings. Don’t be like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men.
2. Create a high-level project plan (and then discard it)
Once you have the results of the GAP analysis, create a high-level project plan for yourself. Document your thoughts on how you think the project is going to go from here. Don’t involve the team at this point. This exercise is purely to help you identify your own biases and your role in the project’s slowdown. Once you’re done with this exercise, discard this plan and bring in the project team to replan your project.
3. Replan your medical device project with the project team
Bring in your project team to collaboratively replan the project. This ensures a more realistic plan as everyone’s perspectives and expertise are considered. It also fosters a sense of ownership among team members.
4. Meet with management to discuss the replanned project
When you communicate your final replanned project with the top management ensure they understand the new changes, goals, and objectives, plus the reasoning behind them. Clarify potential risks and rewards. Outline any additional resources or support necessary to bring the project back on track. If that’s not possible, communicate what is achievable and necessary to meet the revised timeline. When leadership is informed early, they are more likely to provide the additional resources needed for course correction.
5. Bring up potential issues yourself
If something is going wrong, don’t wait until your leadership finds out about it. Bring up potential issues yourself along with possible solutions to those issues. Leadership appreciates it when you go to them with a solution in place instead of just a problem they need to solve. Take the initiative to bring up concerns, and be prepared to discuss potential remedies. Here’s how you can communicate critical issues with top management.
6. Accept the need for a new plan (and recommit to it)
In some cases, it may not be possible to revert to the original plan. Acknowledge this reality and be prepared to create a new, realistic plan that aligns with the current circumstances. Understanding this early on allows you to support your project(and the company) in the best possible way.
Once a new plan is established, recommit to it. Embrace the changes and ensure that the team is aligned with the updated goals and timeline. This commitment is vital for the success of the revised project.
7. Document ‘what went wrong’
Analyze what went wrong and identify areas for improvement. Document it so the team(and the company) can take measures to prevent the same issues from arising in the future. Celebrate your successes and learn from failures.
When a project falls behind schedule, it’s crucial to act swiftly and strategically. By conducting a thorough analysis, involving the team in replanning, and maintaining open communication with management, you can navigate challenges and steer the project back on track. And if you need any help with that, we are just a phone call away.
About Waddell Group
Our mission at Waddell Group is to provide exemplary project management consultants to clients in the medical device and other regulated industries. This gives companies access to great project leaders on an “as needed” basis, and an opportunity for gifted project leaders to work on projects outside an organization’s politics and other “non-project” related issues.
Beyond essential project management skills, our highly experienced consultants know how to lead teams, manage in times of crisis, and influence for change. We offer expertise, intellectual property, and proven methodologies.