- The Assignment. The executive (or committee)
that first assigned the project to you may not agree with your idea of
what the project should achieve, or the same person may have a change of
mind about the outcome, sometimes without letting you know.
- Other Departments. The managers of other
departments have their own priorities and can be expected to have
problems with your schedule, especially if it affects their workload and
timing. Two situations are of special concern to you: when members of
other departments are on your team, and when you need to receive
information from another department.
- Outside Resources. Your project could depend on help or information from companies, consultants, suppliers or agencies that are not part of your organization or division.
- Visit the other manager before you finalize the schedule.
No matter how restricted you are by an imposed deadline, and no matter
how little say you had in choosing your team, you must be prepared to
accommodate your team members' managers. Ask for a meeting and present
your initial schedule. Ask whether the proposed schedule will cause any
conflict with an employee's recurring duties in the department. If there
is a scheduling problem, work with each manager to resolve it.
- Keep in touch while the project is under way. A
weekly status check may be all you need. A three-minute telephone
discussion should be enough to double-check schedules. By working
together, you and the department manager will be able to resolve any
conflicts that arise and so avoid the kinds of breakdowns that lead to
serious conflicts, both work-related and personal.
- Remain as flexible as possible. Stop and think
whenever you find yourself about to say, "You told me this wouldn't be a
problem." Few departments can judge very far in advance the demands
that will be placed on them from above. Successful project managers stay
on schedule and within budget to the extent possible, even when team
members from other departments are pulled suddenly. You may have to
shift duties to someone else or do the work yourself.
- Confront the problems, not the people. In some cases, managers will seem unreasonable, unyielding, defensive and uncooperative. They may resent having an employee removed from their jurisdiction to work on your project, and this can create an array of hostile reactions. Egos are at play, and no matter how strong a manager is, egos are fragile things. Concentrate on the problem the reaction creates. Ask the manager to suggest a solution that satisfies the departmental needs as well as the project's needs.
- Design your schedule so that the consultant is given a deadline in advance of your actual deadline.
Although this is not always practical, since the consultant's
participation may depend on competition of a particular phase of the
project, it is a good general guideline.
- Be prepared to complete the work without the consultant.
The consultant may have been retained because management believes an
outsider's point of view will be superior to that of an insider. If you
and your core team are able to get the work done on schedule with little
or no problem, make sure management knows that the work was completed
- Accept consultant delays as being beyond your control. You cannot control the consultant's schedule, nor can you enforce a deadline. And you cannot always work around the consultant, either. Once you realize a project will be delayed due to a consultant, inform management at once.