Project Management

Same Project, Different Perspectives

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-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 [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

One of the biggest frustrations I encountered in my early days as a project manager was that conversations with different stakeholders never seemed to clarify matters, they just made things more complicated. That was because each stakeholder had their own views of what was important, what needed to be done, and what success looked like.

I had a tough time reconciling those different positions in a way that would allow me to manage the project effectively. I know there were times when I just shrugged my shoulders and focused on what I understood to be important, and I also know that approach frustrated some of my stakeholders and reduced their belief in my abilities.

What causes this environment, and as a project manager what do you need to do about it? As a new PM, the biggest gap in my understanding was that I didn’t appreciate that this was a perfectly normal situation. My projects tended to start with the sponsor sitting down with me and walking me through the business case, explaining why the project was being done and why it was important for the business.

I assumed that if that was the sponsor’s position, then that would be the position of all key stakeholders. I understood that different stakeholders would focus on different things (resource owners were more concerned with the work their people were doing than the overall project, for example), but I…

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