When all hell breaks loose in your project

I received the following in my email recently:I want to know your thoughts when a project manager fails to raise the flag in cases of scope creeps, estimations, budgets etc. In short, in not so ideal world what are recommended techniques (if there is any) when all hell breaks loose

Important stuff and very real. It reflects a lot of comments we receive on many of our courses in project management

Before I responded to this I had an image of a huge wall with large gate in the middle. The imagery was powerful because reading the email I felt that the gate was open and should be shut. Allow me to explain

Project management is about delivering something. We all know that a project can be fraught with problems and issues. That is why we develop risk logs alongside various useful templates. In order for us to deliver effectively we need to stop ‘things’ from interfering and allow us to deliver on time, to budget with the right results. If not, all hell does break loose.

So what is needed?

I suggested in my reply that practicing prevention is essential. That there is a need for a robust project governance process:

  • having a process in place to monitor the project so there if there is project creep it can be stopped or built into the overall delivery plan and budget
  • regular budget meetings or reports that indicate progress against the budget. There is little point in having a budget if you do not know how you are doing against it. So have a mechanism in place for monitoring it
  • ensure the project manager is clear about the authority they hold. Can they vary the budget and if so by how much? What does the project manager do about scope creep? Have they any authority here?
  • have a project sponsor with clout. Someone who has the authority to support the project manager and push through what is needed
  • develop and use the risk and stakeholder logs

In short, do anything to practice prevention.

One of our clients suggested project managers have to raise their head above the parapet. If you are a project manager reading this make sure you do. If you do not, you can be sure your head will suffer as a consequence. If you do, your head may suffer but maybe not as much!


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One Response to When all hell breaks loose in your project

  1. erikko says:

    My insights as a project manager is that in every project and strategy, always come up with a back plan for the worst-case-scenarios that might happen along the way

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