Time Waster Vague Or Conflicting Project Definition And Scope

Once Belinda rallies the troops with a rousing introduction, she leaves Dave to run the rest of the meeting. After leading group introductions and making welcoming comments, Dave gets down to business by reviewing the project definition and scope. This part, he had guessed, would be the easiest. After all, everyone had received a copy of the project plan proposal that Belinda had presented to the executive committee.

The 15 minutes that he has mentally allotted to this part soon expands into a heated three-hour discussion. Among the questions that emerge (one often over another): How was this related to other past and current projects? How could an ERP application really deliver the kind of benefits quantified in Belinda's proposal? Was this project not going to be just like the one that poor Joe tried to launch a couple of years ago (the one that cost him his job)? Who determined when the project would be "complete"? Is this scope realistic for this group to achieve in the agreed-upon time frame?

After allowing this conversation to run on through lunchtime, Dave throws up his hands and asserts that the scope as written in the project proposal was the one they were going to live with. End of story. As they break for lunch, team members express varying degrees of frustration, confusion, anger, and resignation. Most leave feeling that their questions and concerns had gone unheard, and that they will have far less influence in the project than they had hoped.

Among the likely results: Team members will tune out the rest of the meeting. Most are likely to disengage from the project before it starts. Without a clear agreement about what the project will accomplish or include, the scope will continually expand and contract, wreaking havoc with the schedule, leaving team members vulnerable to accusations of slipped deadlines and missed expectations. Changes will be requested, and without criteria regarding what belongs and what does not, the project is likely to grind to a halt at several junctures along the way (see Exhibit 4).

Exhibit 4. When to Bring in an External Facilitator

No one on the team is regarded as neutral and able to demonstrate impartiality

Project team members all need to participate fully in the working session Issues are likely to be contentious and will require an expert who can deflect prob lems and keep the group focuses

A sense of urgency makes it imperative that sessions are planned and delivered rapidly

There is recognition that a trained facilitator can get more out of the team than any existing members

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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