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PM Tip: Look for Early Warning Signs

This is the second in a series of Project Management tips derived from my experience building an enduring record as a Project Manager who leads business and systems projects from inception to successful completion.

PM Tip: Look for Early Warning Signs

A few months ago a client went live on a new system for which I was the vendor side project manager.

They were a particularly challenging client throughout the three month project. They were always trying to push project activities back on to the vendor project team - even though they had accepted responsiblity for completing these tasks. This was so they would learn the system during the project so they could be more self-sufficient post-go-live. It was also to keep project costs down.

They were also not very good at managing their diaries. This became a frequent cause of frustration and sometimes delay on the project. We were regularly rescheduling meetings they accepted initially then declined just before the meeting, or simply didn't turn up for.

I had recognised this was probably going to be the case when for the very first project workshop (a whole day) they asked for it to be delayed late on the day before it was scheduled, even though it had been scheduled for weeks, and required travel for a number of workshop attendees (including me). Their excuse - a weekly team meeting within their organisation that they would have known about when scheduling our project workshop many weeks prior.

Apart from being rude we interpreted this as a likely ongoing behaviour, which proved to be the case.

As vendor project manager I became increasingly more active and direct, sometimes blunt, during the project when managing their delivery of their obligations to the project, and even simply turning up to meetings.

The lesson: look for early warning signs. People's behaviour is typically repetitive. If they do something early in a project, they are likely to keep doing it again and again during the project. In this case it was a corporate learned behaviour - the whole client team behaved this way. Sometimes, however, it is one individual who behaves a particular way.

Look for early warning signs!

Prior post in this series:

  1. Intervene Early

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