Three tips for avoiding project failure from a “Bait Project”
My last blog “Have you suffered from Project Failure due to being the victim of a “Bait Project?”” drew a response from a long time colleague Dennis Peters of Siemens. See his response below…
I guess I’ve been the “police” in this role play before. Sometimes as the sponsor of the project you really do think the PM can handle it, and get lulled into the sense that “this one will be better.”
Options for the PM?
1. Politely refuse to take the project. Of course, that is tantamount to political suicide. All projects are tough. All have longish hours. I think this is a bad option, as you likely won’t get asked again, or get forced into it. I know I didn’t ask people a second time.
2. Accept the project anyway and hope it will work. I think this is what you are assuming is the alternative, though you don’t really say that. Also, a bad option, as you’ll end up disappointing your sponsor when in the end it is late, or over budget, or whatever and suddenly they are surprised and angry at the outcome they told you was OK before you started.
3. Accept the project and use project tools to hold the sponsor accountable. If PM’ing is your deal and you want to succeed, then you need to take on the project, figure out how much scope/cost/schedule you can optimize and what you can really deliver, and immediately deliver the bad news that A) loss of key resources means the project won’t get done, B) there’s no way to meet the schedule, C) there’s no way to meet the budget, or whatever the issues may be… but back all that up with facts while the promise of flexibility is fresh in the sponsors mind. You’ll either get the flex you need, or the sponsor will scoff and/or ignore your data… but you’ll have a defensible position because you were simply reviewing what was handed to you and this is not of your own making. Bureaucracy (and ignorance) hates facts. The key here is not to jump in and fire-fight… but to take a breath, evaluate, and move forward in a planned way, which I think is what PM’ing is all about anyway.