As project managers (PMs), we strive to be the best PMs we can be. In that vein, we also have projects or clients that we would like to avoid for various reasons. The project does not have the correct resources.The project was originally scoped incorrectly and it will take a massive change order to fix it.The client on the project is known to have out-of-scope demands that senior management acquiesce to just to keep the client quiet. We all know these reasons, and we are all familiar with the outcomes of the projects with these issues. However, the question remains:Should the PM be vocal about the projects he/she receives?
A valid question; let’s discuss the answers.
Yes, but don’t make it about the client
We all have had that certain client where no matter how well we provide service to that client, they will always find the negative in the project. And no matter what the PM does to make that project delivery as smooth as possible, that client will never be happy. So, when senior management provides you with the next “opportunity” to work with that client, do not ask senior management to pass because of that client. Rather than make up excuses and examples that show that you are too busy to take on this project, I would do the following:
- First, ask the question: Can we review the scope of the project together with the SOW to ensure that I completely understand what is in and out of scope?
- Once that is accomplished, inform management that you are scheduling an introductory call for the project with the client to discuss that exact scope that you have documented with senior management.
- Request that senior management be on that call.
- Identify the gaps (and there will be gaps) from what the client understands the scope to be vs. the SOW and the list you and senior management understand it to be.
- Request that senior management either resolves the gaps or that you go forward with the scope you and senior management have agreed on.
This is not a CYA exercise. This is an exercise to understand scope. In this manner, you will be seen by senior management to have the best intentions (by the way, you should be doing this with all projects) and to be thorough.
Yes, and remember about having strategically-focused projects
In previous blogs, I have mentioned that a PM should be on strategically-focused projects. Now, we all know that this is not always feasible. There will be times you will be asked to work on non-strategically focused projects. With these types of projects, working with senior management to identify scopeis mandatory because scope creep becomes harder to avoid. I strongly recommend that, if you are given a project that is not strategically focused,you as the PM have the opportunity (there’s that word again) to provide excellent service within scope that is identified and agreed upon.
No, don’t make it about senior management
As a PM, you will never win the battle if you pose the problem as you vs. senior management. As a PM, you must be a partner with senior management and you must be seen as a reliable resource. If you try to make senior management out as the villain, you will lose. If you do both of the options I suggest above you will be seen as the go-to PM and the PM that gets the job done. If you pose to senior management that you do not want to work with a certain client, or that senior management does not understand the scope the client wants, or if you state that senior management does not provide you with the correct resources or guidance without providing them the opportunity to review the scope of the SOW with you, you will lose. There is no other way to suggest this to senior management.
I am not going to sugar-coat this. These options are not easy, but they are necessary. As a matter of fact, here is the challenge for you: If you think that there are other options, let me know what you think they are and we can have a discussion. If you can convince me, I will write a blog about our discussion.
I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore. If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine. You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.
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