Threats to Your Profitability: Chief Troublemaker Warns of Project Overhang

by Jill Foster on September 3, 2009

After each Web site launch,
I ask the Project Manager in charge what’s left to do. Why? Because inevitably, there are items that didn’t make the launch. I call this ‘Project Overhang’ and it can be deadly to a firm’s profitability and productivity.

Project Overhang is what we call tasks that are left over from a project.
The project, site or application can be up, tested and launched, but there are tweaks we didn’t complete like post-launch fixes or small change orders. Often, Project Overhang does not generate additional revenue and the items are so small that they can slip off our radar if we’re not careful.

(Image Climbing in Red Rocks Silhouette, by LastBeats, Creative Commons)

Project Overhang is much less likely to happen on a client account because those projects are external, revenue-generating and discussed during post launch check-ins. But Project Overhang on internal projects can linger for years!

I once had a to-do item to update a new staff orientation guide that didn’t get done for two years!

Studying my recent office relocation
This is why I’m trying hard to make sure we have no overhang from our recent office move. We moved 2 1/2 weeks ago, we’re up, we’re running and nearly every box is unpacked. Notice I said “nearly” every box. It’s the last few boxes that take forever to unpack. I have two boxes at home from a move back in 2001 that are still waiting to be unpacked. So back at the office, we are continuing our SCRUM process to get all move-related items done by the end of the month. In fact, by Friday, I plan to have my office “done,” all prints hung on the walls, and all boxes in the kitchen and supply room put away. The remaining Project Overhang will be to unpack the CTO’s office, but that will be the topic of another blog post. :-)

My tips for dealing with Project Overhang are:

  • Acknowledge and catalog the overhang so that it stays on everyone’ s radar.
  • Set-up designated times to deal with overhang.
  • Give prizes to people who clear out the most overhang. I like gift cards, extra time off, iTunes cards.
  • As with clothes you haven’t worn in over a year, ask yourself (or your boss, co-worker, client) if a task is still needed. If the answer is no, delete that task forever from your to do list.

How about you? Do you have overhang at work or at home? What’s your most ridiculous overhang item? What are you doing to clear out the overhang?

More from:
Chief Troublemaker and her Women Grow Business series on running a business.

Founder/CEO and self-proclaimed Chief Troublemaker of Matrix Group International Joanna Pineda is a Women Grow Business enthusiast. She is known for her visionary big-picture thinking and drive for excellence. Combining her broad liberal arts background and passion for technology, she started Matrix Group in 1999, today a leading interactive agency. As a trusted advisor, Joanna inspires and motivates her clients and employees alike to simply, “be better” with her mantra being: Do or Do Not. There is no try!

Thanks Joanna Pineda for sharing with Women Grow Business from The Matrix Files.

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