can assess and implement an appropriate redoing
of the project plan.
DON’ T SHY AWAY
If there is to be unhappy or unpleasant news, it’s
always best for sponsors to hear it directly from
the project manager rather than through another
stakeholder. Giving the sponsors the details up
front allows them
to reflect and ready
responding; it provides a chance to act,
rather than react.
When bad news
rears its ugly head,
think about the adage of “forewarned
is fore-armed.” Or
consider a quote
from the late (and
Pausch in The Last
Lecture: “One thing
that makes it possible
to be an optimist is if
you have a contingency plan for when
all hell breaks loose.
There are a lot of
things I don’t worry
about, because I have
a plan in place if
they do.” PM
Sheilina Somani, RPP, FAPM, PMP, is the owner
of the U. K.-based consultancy Positively Project
Management, a senior project manager, a speaker
and a mentor.
Project managers and sponsors must work
together to limit damage from unwanted surprises.
BY SHEILINA SOMANI, RPP, FAPM, PMP, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
PREPARE FOR THE WORST
Bad things can happen on any project: Your major
stakeholders fail to respond to project queries in
a timely manner; a solution doesn’t appear to be
shaping up as you’d anticipated; a major decision
maker suddenly leaves the organization; suppliers are delivering late or substandard equipment,
materials or products. In all these cases and more,
the project manager can be burdened with a sense
of dread or futility.
But inaction is rarely an option. The project
manager has to instead find a way to respond amid
pressure or threats. Dynamic project managers are
proactive when bad news hits. They aim to take
the swiftest route to get the project back on track.
Seeking counsel, testing project assumptions and
pre-empting escalation by engaging senior stakeholders are all key to success.
Standard practices to achieve this level of open-
ness and trust include:
n Honest planning and accurate forecasting
n Informal, often unplanned, 5- to 10-minute
ad hoc catch-up sessions with stakeholders
n Communicating potential concerns early
❍ If the concern becomes an issue, it can be
❍ If the concern dissipates, no one is affected.
n Ownership of the issue and presentation
of practical solutions
n Stepping back from emotion to assess multiple
n Focusing on business benefits and
n Remaining outcome-oriented and positive
n Seeking guidance to confirm appropriate solutions
Forging positive communication channels (both
formal and informal) with sponsors helps actively
manage impending crises, and the project manager