Stakeholders’ trust in the project team is paramount to success. The organization’s executive group, project sponsors, end users, and outside business partners must be confident in the Project Team’s ability to plan and execute even the most complex projects. But there are some ways PMP®s inadvertently erode that trust, through their actions and sometimes through inaction. If a lack of trust is causing issues for your project office, see if you’re unwittingly contributing to the problem.
1 – Develop an unreasonable schedule.
Few things chip away at stakeholder confidence faster and more completely than a team’s inability to stick to the agreed-upon timeframe. Missed milestones can quickly snowball, leading to a project that’s dangerously behind schedule as team members scramble to catch up. Budget overages are a common side effect when projects are late, with the Project Team incurring rush shipping charges or inflated contracting or labor fees in an attempt to get things back on track.
The solution: Rather than watch one deadline after another fall by the wayside, teams should instead implement a project management methodology that leverages strict controls designed to ensure tasks are executed as planned. If unexpected issues arise—delays in the delivery of materials, for example, or inclement weather that disrupts activities—a proven methodology will enable the team to realign tasks so the final completion date remains intact. By being alerted early to problems that could put the schedule in peril, the team will be able to develop a solution and adjust the task sequence so the final completion date doesn’t slip.
2 – Refuse to leverage outside expertise.
Very few project offices contain all the knowledge and skills in-house that are needed to plan and execute every type of project. Unfortunately, a lot of teams see the use of outside consultants as a sign the Project Team is weak or that it lacks competence. This display of ego may be seen as poor judgment, and it can undermine stakeholders’ confidence in the team’s ability to weigh difficult choices and make the best decisions for the organization.
The solution: Even when budgets are lean, Project Teams may still be well-served in the long run by carefully—and candidly—evaluating where the expertise and resources of an external partner can provide valuable benefits. The team will be held in higher regard when they’re able to review the project’s needs objectively and bring in knowledgeable support when it’s in the best interests of the project and its stakeholders.
3 – Turn a blind eye to scope creep.
Even those stakeholders unfamiliar with the phrase “scope creep” will have no trouble spotting the phenomenon when it occurs. The project’s sponsors and the executive group will all be counting on the expertise and guidance of the team to keep scope creep in check and to adhere to the project’s schedule as well as its budget. PMP®s who can’t do that will quickly earn a poor reputation and may not be given the opportunity to work on high-profile or strategically important efforts.
The solution: Inaction simply isn’t an option when it comes to scope creep. To avoid the damage that often results when a project’s parameters are continually expanded, the team must be proactive in their mission to keep the project within the defined scope. It’s critical that PMP®s stay one step ahead of uncontrolled changes and that they voice their concerns as soon as any potential problem is spotted. It’s also wise to present a solution at the same time, so it’s clear the Project Team is in full control of the situation and is ready to ensure that progress isn’t hindered.