This seems like an easy question, doesn’t it? Should I trust my project team? Well, of course I should. They’re on my side. They have my back. They want the same things as I want. They’re trying to accomplish the same things on the project. If we don’t work together toward the same goals then we all suffer and the project suffers and likely fails.
Well, yes, all of this is correct. But that’s not really the kind of trust I’m referring to. I’m not implying that your project team is out to get you or trying to sink the project. What I’m talking about is unintentional sabotage. Involuntary manslaughter…in a way. Guilty, but not really…because they didn’t mean to.
So, you say, “What the heck are you talking about, Brad?” I’ll explain… Sometimes our project team members are trying hard, but aren’t necessarily operating safely. They think they’re doing the right things, but without the overall project view, they may actually be doing some of the wrong things – things that are detrimental to the success of the project. Again, not intentionally, but it can happen…. As the project manager, it’s our job to operate on the assumption that one or more negative things may be happening at the hands of our project team members and they may not even realize it. Here are a few things to look out for…
Gold plating their work
We may not know it…in fact our project team members may not know it, but they may be killing our project budgets by gold plating their work either on their own or at the request of the customer. Big egos want to create big things. Requirements are one thing, but to really deliver can be more enticing. Especially if the customer is right there indicating how they want things tweaked and how impressed they are with the developers’ work. If you’re developers are spending a lot of time working directly with the customer, expect that there may be a possibility that their trying to slip some extra work in…asking your developers to add some ‘minor’ features that aren’t really part of the requirements. This may not even be intentional on the part of the customer, but it’s your job as the project manager to educate your team and to get them to stay within the guidelines of the project requirements…because that’s all the project budget covers. Anything else can send the project over budget and towards financial failure.
Careless time charging
Team members can sometimes get lazy with their project time charges when they’re working on multiple projects and can’t remember – in detail – what time they spent on each project. Use your team to help manage the project budget so that they are aware of how important their accurate time charging is to your project’s financial success. If you do this, I guarantee you’ll have less casual time charging to your project and your budget will be healthier for it.
Mis-prioritizing project tasks
Here’s another instance where harmless interaction with the customer can turn into disaster. If your developers are working closely with the customer and you’re not closely monitoring what they’re working on and when, you may find them working on tasks out of order according to the priority you’ve assigned to the task. They may be following the customer’s preferences without realizing it. It’s your job to keep educating your team on what tasks they should be working on and told hold them accountable to the tasks they are responsible for each week.
About the author: Brad Egeland is an IT/PM & Business Strategy consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit his website at www.bradegeland.com.