Project Management

When It Comes to Sponsors, Silence Doesn't Make It Better

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 Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I don’t know if there have been any studies done on what the most common project manager frustration is, but I bet unrealistic expectations would be pretty close to the top of the list. We’ve all heard horror stories of projects that were approved where the PM is expected to deliver a huge amount of work in virtually no time with just a couple of people.

While I tend to think that many of those stories are exaggerated, there are definitely situations where the constraints of the project are unrealistic—where the required work just can’t be done in the allotted time with the team that you have been given. What do you do in that situation?

For many project managers, the answer seems to be that you complain to the team about how unfair the organization is being and how everyone is being set up for failure.

Unsurprisingly, that achieves nothing. If you find yourself in a situation where the project appears to be impossible to deliver within the current constraints, then you need to let the sponsor and other key stakeholders know that. You’re the project manager, it’s your job to identify and help resolve problems—and not being able to deliver the project is a pretty big problem!

Let’s go back to basics for a minute. Project constraints aren’t established to set the team up for failure. Sure, they may be aggressive (…

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