Project Management

Topic Teasers Vol. 128: What Happens When Two Companies Combine Projects?

Heartland Nebraska / Iowa Chapter

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I am the project manager on a large change to the company that we have to sync up with another even larger company. I’m concerned that this will become a huge mess, with neither of us knowing who is responsible and what power we have to drive decisions. I’ve worked with another team when it was internal; however, this seems much more complex. How do I anticipate what could go wrong so I can get ahead of the risk?

A. Whichever company is the larger of the two runs the project. The people on the smaller company team are assigned more minor tasks they can do in-house, and they all report to the project manager in the other company.

B. Little is said in the literature about two separate companies working together on the same project. Unless communication is extensive up front, and the roles are clearly defined, the project can end up losing customers for both entities. Consider more pre-planning than usual and a combination of hybrid teams (some agile and some waterfall) for the execution of the plan.

C. Your company knows what the issues will be, so it should be in the lead. The other company can contribute any additional funding needed to make this end result happen, and it may also be useful in convincing management in both …

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I have an existential map; it has 'you are here' written all over it.

- Steven Wright