1. Hello Marc,

    This is a very interesting post. I think what you are saying is that before a PMO can be set up; before a project manager even begins project schedule planning – the leadership of Company A MUST come to an agreement as to business goals because a PM needs that executive support going forward and cannot have it unless the executives know, understand, and agree on which projects to take based on what is best for the company.

    This is a very hot issue, and I don’t know why exactly. Meaning, it seems to have sprung up over the last several months or so. Twitter, LinkedIn, and blog posts have been blowing up with questions regarding how to communicate to stakeholders (executive support in part) and why they seem to take on projects that defy business objectives and goals for the company. The reason I don’t get it is that this is not a new problem! It is timeless. There are simply a lot of companies out there who will ALWAYS take profit over common sense, jeopardize their credibility with clients, their staff morale, and their future – to make money that they probably won’t ever even see because they have to spend all profit on making the project work.

    I don’t know that there is a method out there to stop this. Not a “known” method anyway. You can always use project management skills to be successful. But the best PM in the world cannot FULLY succeed in this kind of environment.

    My suggestion is push-back. Push back every single time. Document every single thing. Do not be afraid to say to so-and-so in executive leadership (very tactfully) that last time you suggested this and this is the problem that resulted. Be on record. Keep carefully detailed lessons learned and make them known to everyone involved at the project’s end.

  2. Hi Laura,

    Thanks for your comments.

    As a general rule, I would always think that a company should have a clear strategic direction mapped out and some sort of process which assures that there is alignment between those goals, and the way the they make decisions about what projects they execute or where they spend their time and resources. If company leadership is not clear on these objectives, I’m really not certain how they can expect to be assured that they are allocating their resources toward their most important initiatives.

    I do agree that the communication in general, and stakeholder/sponsor communication is critical, however that actually leads to the conundrum that I was outlining. To clarify again: If you worked for company A who had a project with company B, essentially, company B is your client and are your real stakeholders. In this case, it is possible your company (A) may be putting forth things that are in their business interest but not in company B’s best interest. In this case, if you were to communicate the REAL information to the stakeholders, it could put your position with company A at risk. In the case outlined, the ‘communication’ while not the source of the problem, becomes a source of issues which could cost a PM their position.

  3. I hear that we are all saying the same thing but may be overestimating our own power and influence. If Company A is our employer and we are not personally the client account manager for all of the business with Company B then our first line of communication to try and effect change or raise ethical concerns is within our own company. How far one progesses with that action is a judgement call but potentially career threatening. Unless it is illegal our moral compass should lead us to work for a company with higher morals. Remember that in the vast majority of cases money talks. That’s life-unfortunately.

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