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Review Project Audit Results


Key Question: Does the project manager have the appropriate experience for your project's scope and size?

"The lightning rod for a runaway project is the project manager. Although we have given many scenarios in which the project management process had been broken, you must examine whether you have the right person in the project manager role. The overall question you have to ask is 'Does your project manager possess the competencies, experience, personality and management style necessary for the success of your project?' With runaway projects, all four of these areas are important. You can no longer afford to take a chance on a project manager that may not work out. If you answer no to any of these four areas it's time to make a change. The success of the project hinges on the right leadership - especially the project manager."

"If you decide a change in project manager is needed, make the change immediately but be careful how you make the change. If the project manager is a valued contributor who was put in a bad situation, you need to handle the change with some style and grace. Explain to the outgoing project manager that his or her contributions are valued and he or she needs to look upon this experience as a learning opportunity. Try to keep that person on the project as a team leader where he or she can learn from a more experienced project manager and perhaps perform in the role successfully in the future. On the other hand, if the project manager was just incompetent and does not have a track record of success in your company, make the transition swiftly and cleanly."

"Now that you have decided to replace the project manager, what do you look for in the replacement? The most important factor is experience. Look for a project manager that has successfully implemented projects of similar type, size and scope. For example, if your runaway project is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) project, look for a project manager that has implemented that particular CRM software suite at a company that has a similar number of customers as your company. Try to get a project manager that has managed projects with a similar staff size. Remember it takes a different set of competencies to manage a five person, twenty-five person, fifty person or one-hundred person project. Different skills and competencies are needed to manage small, medium, and large projects. Most important, you now need someone who has experience in rescuing runaway projects on top of these other skills. Your new project manager must also fit the soft skills requirements of your company with respect to personality and leadership style. You don't necessarily need a true match. In some cases you may need a real driver in a laid-back culture. You just need to understand the implications of these soft skill matches and mismatches. The project manager must also have the ability to deal with the maddening level of detail required to drive a project plan. Often a project administrator may be required on larger projects to handle the project accounting chores for the project manager. Project managers are expensive pilots and you don't want them being bookkeepers. You need to get a project manager that satisfies all of these factors. The project has already failed once - it's highly unlikely you will be given a third chance at success if it fails again."


The above is an excerpt from a book written by Sanjiv Purba and Joseph Zucchero, published by McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2100 Powell Street, 10th Floor, Emeryville, California 94608 U.S.A. Sanjiv has over 20 years of experience managing large projects and many years engaged in rescuing ailing projects.