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So you think its finished? yeah right...

Trudy Robinson - Friday, April 29, 2011

It's really frustrating when you have brought together the masses, created the WBS/gantt, Issue register, Risk Register, Comms plan etc - and are tracking along ok.  You are sending out updates each week and continually ask whether there are any known issues or additional tasks that need to be dealt with.

Then of course you go into a meeting and someone tells you it's all turned to custard because there is a problem that no one is dealing with.  What can you do?  It reflects on you as a project manager, it seems you don't have your finger on the pulse and that you're reporting inaccurately.

It's not unusual - unless you have significant experience in the topic of the project, you must rely on the expertise and input from the other SMEs (subject matter experts) who are project resources.  Your best skill in this environment is getting the information out of the heads of the SMEs to ensure you have the complete picture, then you get those in the higher escalons to review and sign off on the fact that the documentation represents a complete and comprehensive review.  However, even having done this something will come out of the woodwork when it's least expected.

So, in this circumstance, you need to get to the bottom of the point that was raised:
 * is there a real issue, is it a risk, a scope change or a different view of something that has already been covered
* who should have known about it and why was it missed (part of lessons learned and ongoing improvement, not a finger pointing exercise)
* how do you get the detail required to manage it properly
* who do you need to communicate with once the detail is in place
* what is the cost in $, time and schedule impact
* does it change what you already have planned.

As projects are all about change, the need to move with the flow following clarification of something you didn't know about needs to occur.  So long as it's still in scope, you have to deal with it.  Even if it is out of scope, the need to fully detail the requirement to be put up for consideration as a scope variance or exclusion will be necessary.

Project managers need to cope with change to their expectations which sometimes includes criticism, hopefully construction criticism but not always.  Comprehensive planning and review/signoff is the best means of preventing the cause, but as mentioned this isn't always sufficient.

So you may think you've finished a task, a work package or a whole project - but it may come with steak knives so we learn to cope with the change and impact.

Happy days
regards Trudy
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