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Being a COO in charge of an IT Services organization feel like being lost in darkest space.

Especially when you’re dealing with the dreaded project ‘black hole’ – a project balances that you can’t trust.

You know the feeling – the project that was supposed to be smooth sailing. But it’s evolved into this ridiculous, resource-guzzling monster. It’s enough to give any COO sleepless nights.

That’s why we’re here to talk about it. Strap yourselves in!

Where does the problem come from?

Ever spun plates and juggled chainsaws at the same time? Then you know what maintaining a healthy project balance feels like. You must keep your eye on all resources, staff, deadlines, any external stakeholder concerns, scope, and cost.

No matter how good a COO is, sometimes the project goes wrong. It might be more complex than it looked at the beginning. Stakeholders might ask for adjustments. The timeline doubles. Potential risks are everywhere. Maybe the cost is much different than we thought. Or the PM quits.

Blink, and suddenly you’re floating in the project ‘black hole’. And at the center of that is the money, scheduling, and quality.

What to Do About Incorrect Project Balances

So what can trigger the chain reactions that cause them? Here are several of the most common:

1. Resources underestimated

When either the PM or the COO underestimates any of the resources involved in the project (whether that’s people, tech, or money) odds are there will be a resource crunch that is not likely to be resolved unless you push deadlines back, spend more money, or bring in more people or overwork the ones you have.

2. Miscalculation of deadlines

The time each task (large or small) in a project takes has to be estimated. That means there’s lots of opportunity to miscalculate. Pls, unexpected things happen which can also impact all the processes around it. All of it means missed deadlines and extended timelines. This disrupts the balance.

3. Scope creep

Ah, this little beauty is the bane of every PM, COO, and any team involved. When your project’s scope goes beyond the original parameters or objectives, you’ll have to adjust time, deadlines, cost, resources, and workforce. Otherwise, you’ll be plagued by incorrect project balances.

4. Bad communication

When communication is ineffective, there will be misunderstandings. And misunderstandings always affect project expectations. And then yet again, a project balance is off kilter.

4. Neglecting Risk Management

Risk is woven into even the “safest” of projects. We all know Murphy’s Law and how it’s best to plan for things going wrong. When potential risks aren’t identified or managed, the first thing they’ll do when they show up is knock the project balance.

The bottom line is this – it’s really hard to keep everything going smoothly once problems start to arise. And once you have one incorrect project balance, it’s hard to keep the other ones from being impacted.

How incorrect project balances wreak havoc

When you’re suffering with project balances that are wrong or unreliable, the knock-on effects are brutal.

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Chaos in operations: You need your operations to run smoothly, but once you have gaps in one part of your operations, you might have to siphon resources from other projects to plug the gap. That causes a domino effect, and everything is delayed or disrupted. That makes it hard to keep your balances anywhere near accurate.
  • The money abyss: Whether it’s because of errors or changes, unexpected costs can start to pile up and nickel and dime you to death. Suddenly, your budget’s totally shot, but there’s nothing you can do about it because costs have to be met.
  • Personal Stress: Whew, if you manage to avoid incorrect project balances taking their toll on your mind and your body, you’re very lucky. Stress costs. It costs you sleepless nights, anxiety and even ulcers, and can impact your moods and mental health. No one, even the most experienced COO, should have to fantastize about running for the hills to be a hermit.
  • Teams are shattered: Your teams are impacted too. They can go through the same mental and physical stress. They might be pulling all-nighters or shutting out everything else in their lives to keep the project afloat. Working relationships can be damaged. Not only are they exhausted, but they won’t be happy. And that’s going to lead to quitting or burnout. Either way everyone loses.

This isn’t about pointing the finger of blame for these problems; unless real negligence is involved, people do make mistakes and unpredictable events happen.

But at the end of the day, it’s you as the COO who has to take the fall and explain to the C-Suite and stakeholders why things are the way they are.

What to Do About Incorrect Project Balances

Strategies to Avoid the ‘Black Hole’

No one wants to float around in space forever.

(Except adventurous 6-year-olds).

So, how can you make your life easier by cutting the possibility of incorrect project balances way back? Here are six of the most popular steps:

  1. Use the tech that’s available to you: COOs and PMs that use the most cutting-edge project management tools and software will have jobs that are a lot easier. Why? They get real-time data and analytics. They’ll get numbers that are reliable 24-7. And when things go wrong, the right tools will make automatic adjustments and recommendations for pivoting.
  2. Get agile: Agile is a word that’s used a lot, but it’s for good reason. The more agile your approach, the better you’ll be when challenges or opportunities to do something better pop up. You and your teams will be less likely to panic when things demand change, because you’ll understand that readjusting is part of any project. It’s all part of the process. And when you’re not panicking, you’ll make better decisions.
  3. Encourage a collaborative attitude: Projects don’t happen if people can’t work together. Teams that practice open communication and teamwork will mean more eyes are on the situation. Obstacles are spotted earlier. Potential solutions will be more plentiful. When everyone’s involved in project reviews, there aren’t any surprises.
  4. Learning and upskilling: This doesn’t sound like an obvious solution, but this is more of a long-term strategy. There is zero chance that if you and your team are behind the times with strategies and best practices you will operate in the most efficient way. But if you and your team are up on the landscape of IT Services and project management, you’re far more likely to enjoy the best performance possible throughout a project.
  5. Good management of risk: When your team takes the time at the top of the project to identify risks and re-evaluate throughout the course of a project, you’ll always have a contingency plan ready. That saves time and resources. And you’ll have a stronger project at the end of it.
  6. Good communication with everyone: Every single person with a connection to the project needs to be kept in the loop. All communication should be transparent and timely – even when things go wrong. Misunderstandings and mistakes can be reduced when there are regular meetings and updates.

These steps will start you on the right path to better project balances. It’s a lot of work, but you’ll be able to sleep better at night.

Though…there’s one thing that can bring you all these benefits with just one process.

Automation and your project balances

There are two things that using an end-to-end, integrated automation solution does that will improve your life in ways right now you can’t imagine.

First, automation takes away the causes of incorrect project balances. There is no more guesswork in resource allocation or timeline estimation because you’ve got real time data-driven numbers to keep you on the right path.

Scope creep is a thing of the past, because you’ll never lose sight of the scope. When things start to come off course a bit, you’ll know right away instead of getting a nasty shock. And risk management will be so much easier because with automation all compliance is constantly monitored, risks are identified and graded, and solutions are automatically proposed.

Automation also makes communication crystal clear because it knocks down silos. Information flow is streamlined. Misunderstandings and mistakes are cut way down. Everyone’s on the same page.

And when your automation solution is cutting-edge, you benefit from the best practices and most effective project management processes that will keep your project as efficient as possible.

Second, because the causes of incorrect project balances are now either seriously reduced or eliminated altogether, you don’t have to worry about how they impact you and your teams. You’re free to focus on what you need to focus on, because you and your team no longer have to put out fires.

And you’ll be able to take back reliable balances to the C-Suite and stakeholders, confident that you know exactly where everything is.

What to Do About Incorrect Project Balances

As a COO, you put a tremendous amount of work.

You deserve to have correct project balances that reflect how much effort you and your team put into projects.

As with everything else, once you understand what’s behind incorrect project balances, you’re in a much better place to take the actions necessary to keep your teams and your projects balanced (and your ulcer medication at bay!).

Or you could let automation do it for you.

Get out of the black hole for good.

Bluefort’s end-to-end subscription platform simplifies challenges, ensuring COOs like you can lead with confidence. Ready to transform your business? Schedule a Free Discovery Call today. Step out of the black hole and into clarity.

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