Problems along the way
Here are some questions that will help you track down what might be the cause of a project going wrong. These are the important questions to start asking, together with some suggestions for useful approaches.
The team isn’t working together
- Is there a prima donna in the team spoiling its team work? If so, should I remove them from the team?
- Is someone being purposefully disruptive?
- Have I tried to build the team and teamwork?
- Did something go wrong?
Being a project manager is easy. Being an effective one, however, is very difficult.
- Would an outside facilitator help me re-build the team?
- Would a (another) team building event help?
- Is it something I am doing?
- Do I have a favourite(s)?
- Is the team lacking some key team role member?
- Is the team lacking some essential knowledge or skill?
- Is it lacking leadership?
- Am I the problem?
- Do I need to re-emphasise the importance of the project’s outputs and eventual outcomes?
- Can we celebrate something? A party or other activity?
Nobody is giving the project priority
- Is it a low priority project anyway within the organisation?
- Do they recognise it will be late, due to the low way it is prioroitised?
- Does the board set project priority? Have they got it right?
- Have I failed to communicate its importance?
- Has it got the right sponsor (sufficiently influential?)
- Is the support provided by the sponsor visible?
- Has it got the right project manager (sufficiently influential?)
- Does the organisation have the right capacity?
- Does the organisation have too many projects for its capacity?
- Can I bring in external resources?
- Whose permission do I need?
- Are they available?
- Are they more expensive?
Time is passing but there’s little progress – what can I do?
- Call a project team meeting to discuss progress or lack of it?
- Identify the reasons why?
- Can we manage the problems or do they require resolution by senior management?
- Is it a resource issue?
- Is it an information (or lack of information) issue?
- Is it an authority issue – my own authority or my given authority?
- Do team members need help to set their personal priorities?
- Is someone, somewhere, obstructing progress intentionally?
It’s not going to do the job!
- Are we sure?
- Inform the project sponsor and agree action to take – can we modify the project?
- Stop project?
- Abandon project?
- Develop new solution?
- Get the user to help develop a new solution that will work
People are resisting it
This is a stakeholder management issue.
- Which stakeholder(s) precisely?
- Can they be persuaded?
- Can they be circumnavigated?
- Can their issue be dealt with? How?
- Refer to your communication plan – how can you gain their support?
How do I keep it in budget?
- Make the right decisions about expenditure as early as possible.
- Don’t commit expenditure earlier than necessary – just in time.
- Keep an eye on high value expenditure.
- Watch for future commitments, not just cash flow.
I need more money or resources
- Is there a contingency?
- Who holds it?
- What is my justification for its release?
- Does it affect the business case?
- Do I need to ask for more from the project board?
- Are external resources available?
- Whose authority is needed to get them?
- What is my justification for needing more resources at this stage?
I need more time
- What is the impact on the business case of any overrun?
- Can the business case take it?
- Can I do some more activities in parallel?
I need more support from the sponsor
- Be sure that you know what support is missing!
- Is there any other source of such support?
- Approach sponsor?
- Maybe you could speak to your sponsor’s boss – but take great care how he approaches your sponsor!
I need a back-up plan for this!
You should already have one from your risk planning, and for each risk there should be a mitigation strategy:
- How can you minimise the risk occurring?
- How can you minimise the impact when the risk becomes an issue?