Monday, 14 February 2011

Ways you are forced to kiss failure

No matter how Alpha, Beta, Omega or Gamma types of project manager you are.. if you refer to Johanna Rothman's post on Don't start a project with scarcity you would be convinced that if you have to succeed on a project make sure you don't start out of scarcity. However is the situation ever in your hand? Are you as a Project Manager allowed to make a decision on when to start a project? and with what resources? Well I read the answer on your face... NO.. You are never.

One day your Boss will come and say "There is a X million deal on the table, now go and kick this off".. The best part of this is that your end date is already decided by the deal. You may or may not have resources, you may or may not have requirements, you may or may not know what to do, you may or may not have the right skills to do.. but a certain part of the project is definitely and permanently defined...

So then what Johanna said is very much correct, but just not it.. there are many other things that you start out of scarcity and result in you ending up running on the autobahn of the FAILURE...As a Project Manager these are those few things I thought I would list down for you.. these are those things that are forced on you, so that you can kiss death.. and of course, remember you are the cost, quality, delivery owner on this.

So what are those things that come to you in such a hurry that you don't even get a breathing space to digest it and then work it out.. here you go.....

1. Hire X people, Y customer is going to sign a Z amount of deal in A days.. till then you are the only one to work on it
2. No projects get released without pressure, I am sure you would do it. Put maximum pressure everywhere to get the best quality work in least time
3. If we don't fool them, someone else will.. so even if we know its not possible, lets say we will do it and review the status after sometime..
P.S You own this project
4. I think X can do the job well. Just put him on the best role. If he screw's up the project, you are responsible

5. You get me a project plan while I define what you should be doing in this project, I don't know yet on what I want.
6. Why don't you start working on this , the requirement will be defined as we move on.. I am yet to figure out  what I want
7. I want this feature, I don't know how it will work.. neither does our customer
8. I want an Amazon, that would work like Google, get me revenue like Microsoft, quality of which is like Apple, it perform on a load like twitter and is as popular as Facebook. Now do it.

9. I can't estimate, I will let you know when it finishes.
10. I was supposed to deliver this yesterday, but I need more time, how much? I don't know yet
11. Quality is what we have to compromise on because of 1, 2, and 3
12. How can we test a product that is not fully developed? It is just unstable..
13. We cannot fully test it as we need more time, actually more time than we took for developing it.

Now if you see any of these lines hitting you during or in the beginning of your projects...take a step back. Wait, define the risks, let them be floated. Take a big new wall and paint it in BOLD and strong letters "X Project can fail if we don't"

List down the reasons... and put it in front of the stakeholders cabins.. let them see this every moment so they know under what conditions you work in.... Till then... think of better ways you can handle these issues...