Managing Difficult Projects
Managing Difficult Projects and People: A Project Management Toolbox
When was the last time that you worked on a project under perfect conditions? That’s to say that there were no constraints, such as
- Resources (Human, Material, and Money/Budget)
All of the unlimited resources were available at your beckoned call. You had more monetary resources (budget) than you could spend. You had so many people (human resources) clambering to get on the project that you had to turn people away. And all of your materials, such as software and hardware, arrived on time, was installed without any problems, and was ready to run out of the box. There were no delivery dates or deadlines. And the project scope/requirements never changed because scope creep never occurred. Or you were able to change the deadline to correspond with scope changes.
Chances are great, that you worked on projects that went through the “perfect storm.” You faced resource problems. Too little money was allocated, the money evaporated too quickly, or the budget was cut for more important projects. Hardware was delivered late and there were problems with installing the software. And you either didn’t have enough people, the right people weren’t available, and/or you experienced turnover of key people during the project. Furthermore, you faced the quagmire of an unmovable deadline and a movable scope. For the most part, we must manage projects during the perfect storm.
This presentation is based on over twenty years of first-hand, project management experiences. This includes fifteen years of upgrading and implementing Oracle applications on high profile, multi-million dollar, and/or international projects. The projects were for small businesses, Fortune 500 companies, quasi-governmental, and governmental agencies.
Sometimes, our ship capsized during the storm (i.e. the project was abandoned). Other times, we sailed through the storm and survived (i.e. the project was in trouble, but we recovered and it was implemented on time). And we even sailed around the storm and had the perfect project (i.e. a $12 million project was completed for $2.6 million).
Each situation represented learning experiences. We examined what happened (both the good and the bad), why it happened, and how we could prevent it in the future.
- Educate the stakeholders (and team members) about project management
- Address budget and schedule problems
- Gain control over and stopping project creep
- Manage problem resources (i.e. vendors, contractors, and employees)
- Identify and cost justifying project risks and contingencies
- Renegotiate the project constraints
- Manage the stakeholder anxiety and expectations
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