Is your project grey? If it is it’s a risk!

No, this is not some new patented Rosenhead colour scheme to categorise projects! Or maybe it is!

Let me set the scene. I was talking with a woman who is involved in a partnership project – it involved her company working in partnership with a key supplier. In the process of describing the project she mentioned that there were a ‘few grey areas’ (uncertainties) in her project. These uncertainties, which she brushed aside, needed closer attention. I pointed out the risks within the project:

• no clear role allocation – who was the project manager, who was the sponsor. She was unsure who could make what sort of decisions?

• understanding the project objectives – this was a project that was going to be rolled out to all the different business centres provided this project was a success. But, what would encourage them to roll out the project when what constituted success has not even been talked about?

changes – an inevitable feature of all projects. There had already been a number of changes to the project but there was no process for capturing them and decisions making was very haphazard

• she queried whether the combined project team had the right skills to enable them to deliver the project. No one had analysed the appropriate skills for team nor drawn up any development plans

overly optimistic estimates – some targets have been set however she and the whole project team have queried the lack of realism of some of the key dates in the project.

• project v business as usual – this project has been billed as a key business priority for her company and the supplier. However, all those involved have massive business as usual agendas. Is this project really such a high priority?

Because this project was not set up correctly between the two parties the risk profile is probably quite high. ‘Grey areas’ are uncertainties within a project. Uncertainties = risks.

Who should surface the grey areas?

It is the project managers’ job (along with team members and senior managers) to surface the grey areas and try and get them resolved. No easy job as I’m sure you will agree. But, the lack of transparency, the hiding of these risks is abdicating responsibility of the project manager, team and of course senior management. As one of our previous clients said; “sometimes you simply have to raise your head above the parapet with senior manager, as long as they will listen.”

If you dont surface the geay areas; they may turn red!

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4 Responses to Is your project grey? If it is it’s a risk!

  1. Pingback: Valuable Internet Information » Is your project grey? If it is it's a risk! | Ron Rosenhead's …

  2. Pingback: Project style: Yellow is the new grey « The Productivity Habit

  3. Thanks for introducing the topic with a good idea.

    It seems, to me, that the lady described in the interview decided to leave aside the tenets of the methodologies (either PMI – Charter, Prince2 – Mandate or any resemblance with a Product Owner). Furthermore, the basic concepts of Risk Managements were ignored. This sounds like an extremely risky (if not naïve) strategy.

  4. Ron says:

    Eugenio, she forgot to use good old common sense! She admitted this to me and felt she had gained a lot simply by talking. I met her again recently and she has a written and obtained approval for her charter/PID (project initiation document) and has also carried out a risk assessment which she found very challenging.

    She has surfaced some of her key ‘grey areas’ with her supplier and they are working a lot better together however as she says it is a long journey to developing a real partnership approach.



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