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On Project Management

November 18, 2014

Project Management

“But the earlier manager did report all the extra hours we worked! So why shouldn’t I?”, the new project manager questioned my decision to report only forty hours to the customer, no matter what the reality is. “Because then, the customer was happy to know that we were working hard. Now, right or wrong, customer thinks that overwork is causing quality slippage.”, I replied. Manipulative? May be. But then, truth-must-prevail isn’t the objective. Objective is to complete the implementation on time within budget. And it wasn’t like we were billing time & material. This untimely outburst of righteousness from the manager would have caused more harm in the long run.
It is my experience that project scope is affected more by contentious situations than by honest omissions and meaningful new found problems. Scope management is a part sales function. It does require client in an agreeable mood. And contentions invariably muddy up the waters. They lead to negativity and as Dale Carnegie states in How to Win Friends, negativity is not only a state of mind, but body as well. In such a state, people are ready to reject your suggestions and proposals not just with the mind but with every fabric of their being. And there goes your project scope out of the window.
Most follow a robotic approach to project management. Make project plans, report hours worked, conduct status meetings and on and on. It’s like a machine programmed to function in a systematic way. And may be that is what the project needs to not go wayward. But that’s not what the project management is. We ought to distinguish between enforcement and management.
WFM implementations are notorious for stretching way beyond original plans. A long drawn WFM implementation is a humongous web of tangled up emotions, conflicting interests and agendas. One must learn to feel the pulse of the project, untangle this web and find a way forward. With it’s multitude of moving parts, WFM already receives more than it’s fare share of vendor-client contentions. If as a manager, you can avoid one such dispute, you are taking the implementation one step nearer to on-time completion.


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