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Are You Stuck at 95% Complete?

95% Complete

At the weekly status meeting, things seem to be progressing well.

Several team members report some of their many tasks at 95% complete. They have had other priorities and have to focus on something else for awhile, but they are almost done.

The Next Week

Again, things seem to be going very well. Many more 95% complete numbers to report. Very nice. They look really nice in your fancy project management software.

But wait, many of these are the same tasks that were reported as 95% complete last week.

Perhaps it’s an anomaly.

And the Next

Grrrrr. Some of these same tasks have been sitting at 95% complete for several weeks now. Did something happen to the space-time continuum?

You go talk to the team members and try to figure out why. Isn’t progress being made? ”Maybe it’s me, you ask yourself.”

Maybe it’s someone else’s fault. Perhaps the scope wasn’t documented well and is growing for some reason. Time to go choke your business analyst.

You soon find out that many of the other tasks on their plate are taking precedence. They are higher priority, for sure. But you can’t keep doing this! So many things are getting almost done, and then dropped because of other fire drills that come up. What can you do?

What’s Your Solution?

I know what mine has been. How would you solve a problem like this? What tools and methods would you bring to bear in this situation?

Leave a comment below. Hey, since you’ve read this post, you’re 95% complete.

Are You Stuck at 95% Complete? is a post from: pmStudent

I love to help new project managers and working project managers further their careers.

I also offer online project management training for you!

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Bill Brantley

This is a continuation of your point from last week. Stakeholders and project managers don’t want to hear excuses so project team members will tell them everything is fine up to the moment when all hell breaks loose. The team members are not actually lying but they are buying time so they can fix the problem before it becomes noticeable.

Project managers need to honor open and honest communication. I like this story I heard at a conference. A low-ranking sailor on an aircraft carrier was inventorying a box of tools when he noticed a missing wrench. After a quick search in the surrounding area, he notified the bridge. Immediately all flight operations were suspended and any incoming aircraft were diverted to alternate landing sites. All available hands were ordered to the flight deck to begin looking for the missing wrench. This was considered a serious issue because a wrench could be sucked into the intake of a jet engine and cause a great deal of damage.

The wrench was found and operations resumed. A couple of days later the sailor was honored in a ship-wide ceremony for reporting the lost wrench. Yes, it may seem inconsequential but in complex operations and projects, little problems can quickly grow into major system catastrophes.

A good PM treats his or her team as sensors and encourages team members to report even the smallest issue if the team member thinks it might have an impact. And a good PM knows there is a problem when he or she continually hears the 95% message.