Project Manager or Indentured Servant?

Paula Weber
(Note: This is a true story, but names have been changed to protect the innocent—and the guilty.)


When Kara O’Reilly arrived in Buffalo to replace an under-performing colleague onsite at a project at Buffalo Fronton Development (BFD), little did she know that project implementation would become indentured servitude. Kara soon was living out of a suitcase four days a week for a year, racking up enough mileage points to become a frequent flyer princess and staying so often at her hotel that she received Christmas and birthday presents from staffers. She had to deal with difficult people, cost overruns, disgruntled programmers, inept upper management and non-stop baloney—and that was just from her own company. Facing the client was even worse. Kara had entered the inner circle of Project Management Hell.

She never saw it coming, but, in retrospect, all the signs of trouble were there.

"I came to the BFD project four months after it began with an imperfect understanding of the original scope," Kara explained. "BFD had four legacy systems and several spreadsheets of inventory for telecommunications (voice and data). One legacy system paid half the bills and interfaced to AP. The original plan was to replace these with our company’s PerfectSystem. BFD budgeted for 2,500 consulting hours and …

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"I have often regretted my speech, never my silence."

- Xenocrates