The Political Spiral

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting Inc., an Ontario, Canada-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

Here’s a bizarre one, and it happened to me a few years into my career. I hope that I am now better equipped to deal with it, but at the time it seemed like a nightmare that I just couldn’t wake from:

I was the project manager on an initiative that was taking an existing technology product and customizing it for an external client. The client had been using a competitor’s product and had agreed to come across to us only because they had been sold on a series of new features and enhancements that the competitor’s product didn’t have. The problem was, we didn’t have them either--and the product owner (the project sponsor) was not at all clear on how he was going to deliver what the customer had been sold. Inevitably, deadlines got missed, the early versions of the software didn’t work properly and everyone was extremely stressed--just another software development project, right?

The difference this time was that a member of the product team left during the project and joined the client organization. That meant that the client now knew exactly what was going on and decided to try and turn the situation to their own advantage.

The politics
The client started asking for demos of the functionality, for performance benchmarks, etc., knowing full well that they couldn’t be delivered because the functionality was still …

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