Every Project Takes Longer Than You Think It Will – Here’s Why


When your project does not go according to the plan, it can be a frustrating experience. Do not worry too much about it as it happens to everyone. Let us see how you can avoid it and mitigate the risks. When I started my first project, I thought about the final outcome and expected to reach certain stage within a couple of weeks. The idea was pretty clear and I had figured out almost everything.

But, things did not move as per my expectation and it got delayed by more than a few months. I had a tough time in answering my team members and customers about the delay. I agree that complexities, intricacies and external factors were the major reason for such a setback in the initial days. With time running against me, I took some bad decisions that further delayed my projects. Looking back, I find it very silly that it took such a long time to get going.

Today, I can confidently say that my team is in a position to complete such projects according to the time line. But it was not the same in my initial days and there are many reasons for that. Sometimes, it was due to my own fault and other times, I was not able to get the help from my team members in the right time.

There were also instances when external factors played a major role in delaying the completion of my projects. But now, I can clearly pinpoint the mistakes that we made as a team. Let’s see a few of them in detail in this post. It may help you to avoid such mistakes.

We are not clear with the idea even though we might think otherwise

Everyone falls in love with their own idea and nothing seems to be wrong with them when you get started with your projects. Many people even fix a deadline for their project once it has begun and calculate the profit that may come out of the business. But what they fail to realize is that running a business in the initial days is not a piece of cake and it is far tougher than it appears.

For example, you plan to begin a project in the next week and complete it within a month from now. If you have about 10 people in your team, you would have already calculated the number of hours each one will put in so that your project gets completed in time.

Let’s see how many things can go wrong at the implementation level.

  • To begin with, you cannot have a defined role for everyone in your team and will have to begin with putting them into specific tasks based on their skills.
  • One fine day, one of your team members falls ill and you will not be able to use his services for a few days.
  • If he happens to be working in a crucial role, other members will have to wait till he gets back to work.
  • In some cases, you may develop an unexpected technical snag and have to wait for several hours before it gets resolved.
  • When you have to handle client queries in this situation, you will need a lot of experience and you will have a tough time answering them.
  • All this can put you in a soup and you will lose control over the situation.
  • You need to make a reality check with what can go wrong with the resources you are deploying for the project.
  • Do you have any backup if your system does not work one fine day or some other issue happens with your website or server?
  • Finally, when you have your project ready, what is the guarantee that it will work as expected? What is the backup plan to fix the errors and how will you accomplish it?

In the initial days, you may not have all the answers to these crucial questions and that is what makes all the difference between success and failure in any project.

Be realistic while setting deadlines

To begin with, the first thing you have to understand is that you cannot afford to work for 8 hours a day throughout the month. If you expect the same from your team members, you are making an even bigger mistake. Your team might be very dedicated when it comes to completing the project on time, but still, it is not humanly possible to be at your best every day. You have to understand that there will be minor setbacks and not get fussy about it. Just learn to deal with it in the right manner.

You need not have to expect delays with your projects in this regard. Learn to handle the issues gracefully so that you do not hurt anyone in your team. Remember that you will need to work with them for future projects as well and try to convey the urgency eloquently.

If you lose patience, you may be able to get the project completed on time, but you would have lost the respect in the eyes of your team members.

Plan your projects wisely

Many successful companies realize that it is not possible to get the projects done in time when you force your team members to work 8 hours every day. Remember that you are working with human beings and not machines. Understand that you can easily get the job done when they are motivated and ready to go.


To start off, try to give them flexible hours at work. You can plan to get about 40 hours of work per employee in a week and give them the freedom to manage it according to their choice. In this way, some of them can take a break for a few hours if they are not in a mood to work on the project.

You will notice that they will be able to deliver better performance with this model. Even if one of your team members is planning to take a break for half a day, he can compensate for that in the remaining days by working a few extra hours. Try to convey the message to the team that for the well being of everyone in the company, the project should get completed in time.

If you have the risk of losing the client due to any delay, be honest with them and let them know the importance of the deadline. This will certainly appreciate the transparency and this type of transparent communication will certainly keep them motivated.

Apply this to your projects and see the difference

I must be honest in accepting that there are delays in getting my projects done even today after many years of experience. But the big difference comes in the way I handle it now and take precautions to avoid it. Be realistic; especially when it comes to completing the project within a particular time frame and always add buffer time.

This will give you some breathing space in case something goes wrong with the project. Another important factor is, to be honest with your team members with regards to the deadline of the project. Make them understand that it is important for the company and try to motivate them every now and then.

Remember that it is an art and you need to work on developing your skills. If you can manage to handle the team graciously, you can expect the best results and reach your goals in the long run.

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