I received the above request a few days ago and I was taken aback by what lay behind the request.
I asked a range of questions:
- what are the objectives for this project?
- what is your role in this project?
- who has asked for the Gantt chart?
- what is the end date for the project and the value of the project?
- what are the project risks?
- have you done a work breakdown of the project?
I soon realised that this was a request that we could not really help with.
Several times during the conversation I heard…”we want to do project management on the hoof”. I asked what that meant (knowing full well) and was told:
“We haven’t got time to go through all those formal project management processes. We need a result damn quick.”
What result I asked?
Silence at the end of the telephone. There were some vague words around profitability but not much more.
I gave the ‘client’ some feedback. I suggested that there was big risk for this company as they seemed to be basing a significant income investment on the back of a cigarette packet (fag packet over here in the UK). I pointed out that there was no business case. Return on investment seemed to be based on a wing and a prayer – relying on hope to see you through, there was no risk assessment, the person who called me had been told to draw a Gantt chart and it appeared as though there was no project manager and the person implied that there were several project sponsors. There were several delivery dates – akin (another metaphor)…to a tennis match, where each hit of the ball is another date.
I offered to come in and meet senior managers to talk through needs in more detail and explain my thinking. I never heard another thing and did not expect to.
I picked up in the conversation that the culture was one of last minute working (overnight if needs be) and people liked and bought into it.