Between a Deadline and a Milestone
Have you ever been stuck? I mean really stuck. Such as when there is no easy solution? I got a call last week from my manager. She asked some questions about projects in general.
She started with the words, “Dan, have you ever been stuck?”
“I am stuck right now,” I answered.
“Where?” she asked.
“I’m stuck between a deadline and a milestone.”
“It started before I was assigned the Laramie project. Before the contract was signed, the sales executive indicated the data analysis milestone would be completed by March 30th, next Friday.”
“Was there a reason this date was communicated?”
“Yes, to win the business.”
“So it’s just an arbitrary date?”
“Yes. It is an arbitrary date, but optimistically achievable. However, the data was two weeks late in arrival, it wasn’t complete, and we had to wait another week for it to be resent. We started with a 3-week delay.”
“Was this communicated to the client?”
“Yes. But by then they had already submitted a letter ending their relationship with their data provider since the sales executive had indicated we would be ready by this date. As of next Friday we have to have our task complete or the client will be without data.”
“What did you tell them?”
“I didn’t make any promises, if that is what you are wondering.”
“Do you think we will be ready by Friday?”
“It is doubtful. Our data analyst has difficulty getting quick responses from the data provider. We let the client know.”
“Is there anything else?”
“Yes, our analyst’s wife is pregnant; she is due next Tuesday. We just found out today.”
“Are you able to get another resource?”
“I am working on it now. I’m waiting for our resource manager to return my call.”
After the call, I wondered where exactly this project went wrong. In my mind, I wanted to blame the sales executive, the client and the data analyst – anyone but me.
Setbacks happen. As the project manager and as the risk manager for the project, I came to the conclusion it was my responsibility to identify and communicate all risks, not the responsibility of the stakeholders. I let myself get stuck between the deadline and the milestone.
Do you agree with this assessment? Is it up to the Project Manager to find risks, or is it up to everyone else to tell the project manager about risks? I look forward to your responses.
About the Author:
Dan Vickers PMP
Project Manager/Program Manager/Implementation Leader
CS STARS LLC (a Marsh Company)
Dan Vickers, a project leader at CS STARS, has worked with a wide variety of clients in multiple industries: Banking, Insurance, Staffing, and Manufacturing. He began in project management in 1996, was certified as a PMP in 2003, and has led hundreds of projects from start to finish. He works in a fast-moving, multi-client, multi-team environment delivering risk management software solutions to clients across the country at CS STARS. He currently performs program management for numerous projects in an effort to efficiently impact the organization’s bottom line. In addition, he leads project management webinars to other project managers from around the world. Managing multiple projects simultaneously and effectively is his way of life.