If deadlines were met all the time, it would be a perfect world. Customers would be satisfied; you would be happy, and your company’s bottom line healthy.
Alas, this is not the case. The realities of life can sometimes cause you to miss deadlines. An urgent work assignment can come up unexpectedly or something in your personal life may demand immediate attention. You then try to break your neck catching up, even foregoing sleep and subsisting on coffee for days, which might just compound the problem.
You can see it now: irate customers barking on you on the phone for failing to deliver the promised product or service on time. Or customers checking on you every hour to know the progress of your assignment. Worse, customers may leave you for failing to accomplish the agreed terms of service on time. Some may even impose penalties.
Missed deadlines, more so if done regularly, can be expensive and disastrous for any business. In fact, it can become a black eye on your record.
If you are behind schedule and may miss an established deadline, here are some tips to remedy the problem:
1. Find out why deadlines are not met.
The first step is to get to the bottom of the delays, especially if this is a recurring problem. What are the usual causes of the delays? Is it due to increased workload, and you’re taking in more than you and your staff can handle? Is it due to your lack of manpower? Or is the problem a result of failure to anticipate the real scope of the project, or misaligned priorities? Is the customer creating problems for you, revising scope of project and making unanticipated changes frequently? Or is it because you procrastinated and thought that you still have enough time to complete everything? You can only provide the solution if you know the root of the problem.
2. Identify ways to solve the problem.
You’re in a conundrum and you need to act fast! At this point, you are faced with two choices: sacrifice quality in order to meet the deadline; or you can request for an extension of the deadline so as not to compromise quality. Make a list of all possible options to solve the problem, including the cost and manpower involved.
3. Be honest with the customer.
Inform your customer as soon as possible about the delay. Give the customer assurance that the problem is currently being addressed and that you working to complete the project as soon as possible. Don’t wait to the last minute to inform the customer that you will be unable to deliver. The customer may be frustrated, even angry, but calmly apologize and reassure the customer that you are doing everything to shorten the delays.
4. Try to finish it as soon as possible.
Now’s the time to work, work and work. Whether you need to forego sleep again for the next two days or hire additional manpower, you need to put into place all necessary steps to complete the task. Some customers will understand your situation and even work with you to come up with an acceptable compromise. Be aware know that there are costs to missing deadlines: added costs and increased stress, among others, can affect you and your business.
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