Posting my answer to one of the questions asked in the Project Management exam during my MBA. When i read this now... it really looks funny... read it for yourself!!! Wonderful, yet so funny, in Subba Iyer's classes
Midway through the project, you have the following issues:
a. Your schedule is slipping by about 30% and the next 2 major milestones are at risk.
b. The payment application and its integration to the accounting system have severe performance problems. Subba Iyer is not very happy with this because this was one of the reasons that the project was awarded to you.
c. 3 key members out of 14 have quit the project.
d. There are motivation problems within the team members.
e. Some one within the client organization has told Mr. Subba Iyer that perhaps your organization isn’t geared to finish the project.
Under these circumstances, your CEO looks up to you to stand up before Subba Iyer and his colleagues and give them a status update. Clearly you are nervous.
Describe your approach, your assumptions and the best-case scenario that you would work towards.
Hmmm… that is a difficult situation to handle, especially if Mr. Iyer is on the other side! But, I will give it my best shot.
First, I had to do my homework on all the allegations (from a to e above) and find out the root cause for all of them (If not already known).
30% slippage is a lot and hence there should be a plan B in place to counter that. I will honestly look at the root cause of the slippage and see whether it is internal issue or something external to our company that is causing this.
If it is internal, then I have to fix it by adding more skilled workers in the project with immediate effect. I would do all I could to pull in resources as the CEO has all his support for my project. If it is external in which we have absolutely no control, then I’d flag it to Mr.Iyer to deal with it.
The performance issue would be looked at to understand what the problem is in it. The project is only on its half way stage now and I would argue that the performance is not the final and it would only be improved over time and would assure him to show performance improvements in a specific agreed time and quietly push my CEO to pull in resources to see the real issue and fix it when it is still dark!
It is inevitable that frustrated people would quit the organization if they were put in projects such as this. And the motivation level would also be less given the situation of the project. These are some things that the project manager has to deal with internally. I would argue to Mr.Iyer that additional resources with the required skill set would be pulled in to cover for 3 lost resources.
I will show my resource plan, updated project plan, contingency plan and a contingency plan for my contingency plan to ensure that we are doing whatever we can to bring the project on track.
The bottom line is, I will not disclose the root cause of the issues to Mr.Iyer but will come back and quietly push my CEO to pull in a few strings and get the project going and show improvements in the next meeting to Mr.Iyer and gain his confidence.
At the end of the day, I should realize that this is only a project (even though it is a make or break project for me). If I get nervous, that will have bad effects on my team. All I would do is shield my project team from Mr.Iyer, take all the stick and ensure that the project team is motivated and is on its own. At the same time, I will put a lot of pressure on my superiors, such as my CEO, and make them nervous so that they give enough attention to my needs for the project.