I wrote a Blog some 4 years ago called “When a Project Manager has to say no.” It was based on someone who attended one of our project management courses who wanted me to tell him how to say no.
Well, the same thing happened recently. Someone quietly came up to me at the first coffee break and said that he needed help in how to say no to his sponsor. There were all sorts of issues he faced and I suggested that we spoke at the end of the course when the whole of the project management approach would have been covered.
I started to summarise the 2 day course however before I could finish up jumped this person and said he had the answer to his question – how can I say no? He then summarised in a few minutes, using the flipchart the answer to his question:
• you cannot say no directly to your sponsor (or whoever) you need to use the tools within project management to help you, by not saying no!!
• ensure there is an effective business case that really addresses business benefits and benefits management
• check that stakeholders are on board with the project (a real issue for him – in one project they seemed to be actively fighting the project)
• risk log – really identify those risks; including the sponsor who kept ‘dipping in and out’ of the project (see below)
• change control – agree at the start of the project how changes will be dealt with (the sponsor was one of the main culprits for making changes – see dipping in and out above)
• monitoring – have an agreed project monitoring and control process linked to change control. The process should also check that benefits are being realised. The monitoring and control of his project by the sponsor was very adhoc caused by a sponsor who had little involvement in the sponsor role
• raise your head above the parapet (go out on a limb). He explained that the course had shown him the processes that needed to be used to deliver a project, but, he realised that in order to use the above, he needed to use all of his people management skills to start what could be a difficult conversation.
He really got a lot from the 2 day event and left happy.
My question to the group was this, and it’s my question to you; how can you say no (if of course you need to!)?