Vent Sessions

Vent Session

Whether it's last-minute change requests or oblivious stakeholders, recurring problems can push project managers to the edge. We asked practitioners: What's your biggest project pet peeve?

LACK OF DIRECTION

“Poorly defined strategic direction and its partner in crime: poorly understood requirements. The former usually leads to the latter-which usually guarantees change requests down the road. Poorly defined strategic direction, regardless of industry, can be the result of an organization not taking time to create a roadmap that illustrates its desired growth direction. More frequently, the problem equates to a project team's lack of awareness of the strategic direction. Projects that have a dim connection to the strategic vision can be plagued with continually changing requirements, cost and/or schedule overruns, quality problems and ultimately diminished value to the organization."

-Michael Worden, PMP, project manager, Meijer Corp., Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

NO LAID PLANS

"Insufficient planning can make project execution feel like war-and often leads to agitated stakeholders and dissatisfied clients. A lack of proper planning will invariably create a need for corrective actions, which in turn could cause delayed timelines and bloated budgets. A project manager must be able to clearly articulate the project plan and envisioned outcomes to stakeholders prior to execution. This is the key to ensuring proper planning and therefore successful delivery of the project."

-Debangshu Ghose, PMP, senior project manager, Mphasis Ltd., Pune, India

EXAGGERATED EXPECTATIONS

"Sales staff making unrealistic promises to clients. This frequently happens when a company is competing to win a contract with a client. The sales department will commit to delivery dates and service-level agreements that have project teams trying to make miracles happen in order to meet client expectations. This negatively impacts the project's delivery dates and costs.

The last time this occurred for me, the only way to meet the client expectations regarding scope, quality and schedule was to add more people to implementation and support teams. Even though we met sales team revenue goals, the profit margins for the project were seriously impacted and much lower than the delivery manager planned. The positive outcome here is that collaboration between sales and delivery departments has improved to avoid repeating the same mistakes and submit better proposals to new clients."

-Mario Gonzalez, PMP, senior project manager, Infosys Technologies Ltd., Monterrey, Mexico

SKIPPING STEPS

"Stakeholders who do not understand or respect the project management process and framework. They undermine the work of the project manager and the team while consuming time and effort that could be spent moving the project forward. I have seen this become problematic right from the start of a project, when those who do not understand the process want to start executing right away before deciding on key elements such as scope definition and risk identification.

What I've found most helpful in this type of situation is to clearly outline the responsibilities· of everyone within the team, including the sponsor and project manager. Reviewing and documenting these roles can serve as an initial team activity and will ensure everyone begins on the same page."

-Rob Truglia, PMP, program manager, North American Surveillance Systems Inc., Titusville, Florida, USA

OVERDOING IT

"In the aerospace industry, my biggest issue is engineers causing delays to the schedule by over-designing simple architecture. Our engineers are not only designing and building for the aircraft, they must guarantee the final product will meet military standards and myriad requirements from the Federal Aviation Administration. Often, this leads them to overdesign what should be a simple solution to ensure fast approval. Along with delays, this adds a great deal of cost into the program because of the extra material or the type of material chosen.

I like to mitigate these risks by having weekly discussions with the engineering team to consider alternatives that they may have overlooked. Program managers can look at solutions and designs from a different perspective and use real-world solutions that have worked in the past while keeping the cost and schedule impact to a minimum."

-Rob Truglia, PMP, program manager, North American Surveillance Systems Inc., Titusville, Florida, USA

OUT OF CONTEXT

"In the IT industry, people use agile differently than what it really should be. They think they can change the scope however they want, add new requirements on a whim and make modifications according to feedback from anybody-without thinking about the consequences. Because of these frequent unplanned changes, it becomes almost impossible for a project manager to track the project or keep the team motivated."

-Tugce Evirgen, PMP, engineering project manager, Koding, San Francisco, California, USA

The Bright Side

Pet peeves aren't nearly as infuriating for people who like their jobs. So what drives high job satisfaction?

Source: The Indeed job Happiness Index 2016

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