PM: Know when to send up a flare!

The Project Manager’s job is to ensure the team works in harmony and stays on track with the overall plan.

That said, there are situations that WILL arise which cause deviation from the plan. Often, these deviations can be absorbed, resulting in no impact to the project outcome (i.e., cost, timeframe or quality). However, this must be closely monitored so that when slippages do occur that pose risk to the project outcome, prompt and effective communications take place.

The high performance PM does not manage to “hopeful” outcomes. S/he manages to concrete dates and deliverables. As such, when those outcomes are in jeopardy, a flare must go up to ensure the project stakeholders are aware. This, instead of waiting until the next scheduled project review meeting.

A great quote:

Unlike wine and cheese, bad news does NOT get better with age.

While the resulting conversations may not be pleasant (potentially, even painful), they MUST be had in a timely manner to avoid (or at least minimize) impact to the business. From there, we can strategize with the team on the course of action and realign everyone to the revised plan.

It is so easy for a project to “quietly” get significantly off plan to the point where multiple days or weeks go by without the project stakeholders acknowledging the reality of the situation. A task slips here, another there. On an individual basis, these slippages may seem harmless. However, they have a compounding effect. And, there will be a reckoning…

The high performance PM continuously “connects the dots” in terms of how all the moving parts are inter-related and impact the project’s critical path. And, when there is significant risk of deviation from plan (or deviation has occurred) — they call it like it is!

That said, the PM must maintain a careful balance so as not to declare “the sky is falling” when we simply have a mere bump in the road.

And, we don’t simply declare the issue. We also provide guidance on options for a course correction that need to be considered by the stakeholders and/or team.

In closing, if you are looking to improve PM capabilities in yourself, or organization, feel free to reach out so that we can discuss how I can help!

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