At Risk vs Off Track


Regarding progress updates, where’s the proverbial line between being at risk vs off track? You can be at risk of not hitting the goal, you can be off track regarding your interval, etc. Im tempted to simply skip one of them but want to know if there is some reasoning behind the choices. Thanks.

I’m a fan of using At Risk liberally. If the accountable team lead might catch some flack for that, it can be nice to give them a heads up and align on why you are At Risk and what steps will be taken to get you back On Track. At Risk and Off Track are best when there is action planned to fix the issue. “We’re trending to be over budget, but we have put in a request for additional funds, so we’re at risk for now.”
I’ve seen a lot of project managers go from weeks of Green to suddenly it’s Red across the board and everything is on fire around them. If you look at the situation honestly, there was a gradual decline. At Risk gives you that buffer to acknowledge things could be better and to take small actions to fix the issue, rather than pretending everything is fine and having to take drastic action unexpectedly.
Again, I think having conversations around why and what is being done to fix it will help. I’ve told team leads I’m going to say their At Risk in private and they’ve gotten upset, but after we talked through the issues, I was able to soften my wording around what the problem was and they were able to lay out a plan to solve it. The alternative is a lot of finger pointing and even anger at status meetings. At least in Asana the status is just sort of sitting there, vs being presented to a group on a projector at the same time, but still.
Not sure that helps, but it’s how I think about it.

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Thanks very much Anthony. You were very helpful with the context you provided, which is what I was looking for.

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