Confirming Management Support

If you' ve worked in the business world for any length of time at all, you understand that there are pockets of people who have a different business or political agenda than other groups might have. For example, while one group might think that a project is highly deserving and must go forward no matter what the cost, another group might feel that the cost is too high, may think the technical expertise required to accomplish the project s completion isn't available, or for any of a host of other reasons could oppose the project ' s forward movement. Sometimes you might even encounter a project where one person wants it killed simply because the idea came from a different group within the company. More important to avoid is deploying a project that all appropriate managers weren' t aware of. Suppose you' re approached by a customer who, in your estimation, is fairly high up in the corporate food chain. She tells you that she has a project she wants done, lists the things that need to happen, and gives you the go-ahead to prepare the project concept document. You write the document, meet with the sponsor, and get formal buy-off on the project. As soon as the order for the hardware hits the purchasing department, the corporate controller calls you and wants to know just what the heck you think you' re doing. Not only does he not authorize the gear, he tells you that henceforth you ' d better include the finance department in any future projects so that they can either approve or disapprove the tangible items that are required by the project. And, oh, by the way, there will be no consulting services paid for during this fiscal year.

You return to the person who initially requested the project and give her the disappointing news. She gets mad, says she' l l take care of it, and you don' t hear anything more about the project after that.

Bottom line? People who have the say-so to make the project happen have to agree on a project' s viability (whether the project should happen at all), that its scope is correct, and that the money is available to make it happen. This is the job of the project sponsor and another good reason to obtain formal sign-off at each stage, including the project concept document and the project charter.

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