The Project Notebook

No Surprises!

I always set the expectation on my projects there should be no surprises. Why? If I’m chosen as the Project Manager, the one to integrate the project components together, I’d best have some idea of what is going on. With virtual surprised business manproject teams, this can be more difficult — but I still have to ask. Ideally I will be “cc’d” on all important messages, correspondence, and calls, and if there is a significant meeting I have to miss, notes should be taken and made available. This isn’t about my ego or control issues, but about doing my job.

Unfortunately many project participants (and yes, project sponsors) are still in the dark. They don’t understand the necessity of this type of request. These folks can usually be coached. Or perhaps they have a form of “political” agenda that’s contrary to assisting you in getting the job done. These are the folks you need to work with the project sponsors with to have removed from your project.

Now please don’t mistake “surprise” (something significant happened and a project participant didn’t inform you) with other events. Emergencies do come up. Business priorities do shift. This is when you have to pull the team together, replan, and move on. Just a few years ago I had a project with $20M worth of computer equipment in a warehouse — each system was being tested, prepped with new software and hardware, and packaged for shipping to a customer. It was nearing the end of the year and I got a phone call telling me business priorities dictated the systems be in customer hands by the first of the year — the original plan called for 6-8 weeks later. We looked at our options to fast track — testing standards were maintained, but we notified HQ we needed more materials to complete more of the work in parallel, worked out a parallel shipping schedule, and secured additional transportation to help us complete on time. Come January 1, everyone was happy!

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© 2010-2012 Ray W. Frohnhoefer, MBA, PMP, CCP