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Project Management Analyst

March 11 2010

When there’s Nothing Left to Do but Cry

This article may be better subtitled as “The Day My Business Analyst Lost It.”  This one didn’t happen to me, but it did happen to a colleague and it greatly underscores the need to set proper project scope from the beginning.

As my colleague stated to me, they were just kicking off a new project with a major customer and were going through the process of defining project requirements at a more detailed level.  Unfortunately, the account manager who finalized the deal with this customer had left some important details out when he was finalizing the sale of the Project Plan.  What this means is that the project manager and his business analyst on the project went onsite to the customer with expectations a bit out of whack.

The customer did not train on the vendor organization’s Project Management Software offering prior to the engagement, as was supposed to be the requirement.  The customer did not purchase the proper level of maintenance agreement to get the free training as they had expected.  And the customer was nowhere near ready to define detailed requirements because they had not yet defined their own business processes…also a requirement for kicking off the project.

Chaos

What happened next was a fiasco.  The customer was irate once they realized these issues and took it out on the project manager and the business analyst as soon as the problems became evident during their requirements meeting.  The affect on the project manager was frustration, the affect on the business analyst was a little different tears.  First during breaks in the requirements meetings and then during the actual meetings themselves!

The Issue

This project wasn’t ready to start.  The customer wasn’t ready because they didn’t have their current process defined well enough to work on requirements for their new post-implementation processes.  They weren’t trained on the incoming technology to know enough about how it can help them.  And they were angry.

The Solution

The project manager basically called a timeout – nothing good was happening anyway.  He convinced the customer that it was in their best interest to postpone the project using Project Management Templates start by about a month, get the proper training in the meantime, and work with their own internal users to better define their needs and their business processes.  The result was a project restart 45 days later and a successful implementation 7 months later.

Often times taking a step back sounds like it’s a step in the wrong direction, but that’s not always the case.  However, taking a step forward too soon can be tragic for a project.  Keep the end goal in mind and stay focused.  The project manager must maintain control and do their best job to make the best decisions overall for the project and the customer.