The Project Notebook

Its People that Cause Problems

Not too long ago I had a project sponsor relate to me the need for “real time data” so their projects could be effectively managed. That one took a little while to digest and further examination showed issues at multiple levels which real time data was not going to solve. People issues were at the center of it.

First, it turned out that accounting data was only available on a monthly basis and there is no interface for on-the-spot reviews. Getting the right information at the right intervals can be invaluable. I generally recommend having the most recent data available on demand and having status updates no less than weekly. You may recall from previous posts that a weekly trip to the accounting department (not necessarily always the same day or time) generated sufficient information to provide an earned value report. While results may vary depending on project and circumstances, real time usually isn’t required. There was a long standing request for “on demand” data, but that could be traced back to a people/resources issue in that it wasn’t fulfilled.

The next related issue was gleaned from the accounting data. Bottom line — there were inefficiencies in the organization which required correction. This is something the Project Manager (and often the project sponsor) cannot address. Its the role of functional and/or senior management to correct. Here again, the issue had been made known, but there was no action for a lengthy period of time. The best the Project Manager and project sponsor can do in these circumstances is escalate the issue again for resolution.

It often becomes convenient in our electronic world to blame “systems” and “process” for failures. Usually if we look deeper, we can find people related issues at the core. Our ability to solve these issues is aided by having clear roles and responsibilities as well as having the right people for the right tasks. These types of issues can often be deep rooted and take longer to solve, but by working on these we can resolve root cause and make future projects run smoother.

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