When speed end up not being a value

When asked to tackle a project, one of the worst things any project manager can do is to rush-in immediately to start tackling it. The worst thing the person requesting or sponsoring the project can do is to insist that they do so. Why? Keep reading the following case story perhaps illustrates this best.

The committee sponsoring the project was fairly clear what they wanted – a new resource evaluation system for new staff. However, they had only a general and high level idea about the efforts involved in designing and introducing that.¬†Despite that, common feeling was that it should not be too difficult and that four months was a reasonable timescale.They appointed Massimo as project manager. When Massimo looked into the project in more detail, the whole project started to look unreal. Without more resources the timescale was impossible and there were also some serious risks. Getting cooperation from others would be difficult in some areas.The difficulty was that it was really now too late. Having accepted the project, Massimo was rather unwilling to go back to the committee to raise these problems. He didn’t think that they would be very happy about that and it might appear as if he was being difficult. But then if he didn’t do that, then the committee would continue to believe that the project would still happen as they requested and expect it to be finished on time.

Does the above sounds familiar to you ? Organisations where people work as project managers on a regular basis know this situation and try to avoid it with a more formal approach to starting projects.

In particular, before a project is kicked-off the project manager has the opportunity to scope it – to look into the project and draw up a project plan.

Assuming the organisation is properly educated on project management and that there is a clear roles defined and no shortcut or even worst overruling culture generally this approach does work. It obviously doesn’t avoid all difficulties but it does mean that both those sponsoring the project and those carrying it out start with a common understanding of what the project is to deliver, what the difficulties and risks are, and how it will be tackled. In our example, Massimo would have been able to go back to the Project Sponsor and try to negotiate resources and support from them.

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Massimo Antoniello is a business and solutions architect with more than 20 years of experience supporting business growth and development, in various industries.

Categories: Management

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