Control Your Project’s Reality

The reality of a project—its objectives, its hurdles—don’t always match the perception that stakeholders have in their minds. When a project management professional discovers a discrepancy between how things really are and how people assume them to be, it’s time to do some proactive damage control that often goes beyond simply resetting expectations.

First, see if you can determine where the incorrect information came from initially. There’s a chance that the data is actually accurate, but was passed through inappropriate channels, such as a vendor providing someone other than their primary contact person with updated lead times, etc. This will help you determine if the information floating around is indeed incorrect, or if it’s just old and needs to be refreshed.

Next, send accurate (or perhaps updated) information to everyone involved in the project. This includes not only stakeholders—end along with champions, funders, and even the executive team if it makes sense—but also anyone in your Project Team who may have the project on their  radar. This will alert folks to the fact that erroneous data is floating around, so they can be on the lookout for it. It also ensures that everyone with the potential to provide information to stakeholders is working off the latest approved data.


Finally, reinforce where information should enter your Project Team, and who is responsible for passing it on to stakeholders. If updated data bypassed your team and was given directly to stakeholders, either by others in your organization or by business partners, you will likely need to let folks know from whom they should expect to receive new data points. If a vendor released information to end users or others outside your Project Team, it’s time to re-educate them that all data is to go through a specific point person on your team.

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