September 28 & 29, 2020 | Virtual
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I’ve been in such situations so I hear you Erikka. The only thing I could think of is to check with the SME’s colleagues as to what motivates him or her and you might be able to bring them around this way,
Certainly, can be challenging. Worth remembering that one group's priority does not equate to the same outside the project. When a project may require assistance from other groups or individuals, placing emphasis on inclusion of those 'non-core' team members to help them to understand the potential for future needs, etc. This way an individual(s) can be identified and allocated as needed.
That being said, see what can be done now by bringing or requesting allocation to aid in this particular initiative. May need to be escalated to ensure able to adhere to the schedule. If the priority of the initiative necessitates intervention, then it should be addressed through escalation.
I've dealt with some notoriously difficult SMEs. With some, it is a personality issue, and with others it is a true resource constraint and priority issue.
Check with their colleagues as Rami pointed out as well as your own PM colleagues to determine whether they are like this to everyone. My general rule is always start out very polite as you said you are doing, but if they're just stubborn then I have to be polite but more firm and direct. This can be uncomfortable but is a necessary skill to develop. The problem SME eventually figures out that I'm not a pushover and that it will be easier to work with me than against me.
Talk to the manager about whether or not it is actually a resource prioritization issue. If that is the case, then management needs to decide whether or not to elevate the priority of your work over other work. If they decide not to, that is their call and when they ask why your project is stalled, that decision is why. Sometimes that happens in the course of business and as the PM there isn't much we can do to resolve it ourselves other than mitigating the problem and trying to get back on track once resources become available.
From what I have seen from my experience, I completely agree that escalation may be an option you need to take, but always try a more appreciated approach first, like you have been doing. My first step is always to talk with my other PMs to see who has worked with them before, and if this issue has ever occurred previously. I have one resource in particular in some of my projects that is just truly over-allocated, and I did not realize this until I talked to find what all projects she was currently working on. I also have a good relationship with my manager, so I sometimes go to her if I cannot break through with someone to get other ideas to see what might be the next best approach.
Good luck! Hope this works out.
I echo everyone's feedback here Erikka.
As part of the escalation, I would also explain: a) the risks to the project's outcomes if the SME does not participate timely and effectively, and b) some potential solutions for mitigating the risks associated with the SME's resistance and lack of participation.
You need to escalte. But escalation is to find help for the SME that can not give you the needed, planned and agreed dedication.
I agree guys. Escalation should be part of the action plan. Understanding what is the root cause is important. Is because the sme doesn't really have bandwith? Or it could be something else.
@Heberth have put something critical on the table. First thing to understand, before escalate, is why that perforn behaves in this way. The principle of action-reaction governs the world. What I do before to escalate is talking with her/him and, just in case is needed to escalate, make her/him understand that I will escalate for asking for help mainly for herself/himself. By the way, the groundrules including escalation is a key component inside our kickoff meeting deck and our project charter document.
Not having the bandwidth is the problem,escalation should be targeted at getting the support required to obtain the bandwidth.
In addition try to find out what motivation can be provided to get a paradigm shift.
I agree with the views of everyone above. In the past when I have run into such situations, knowing the goals of the SME team and how I could position the work (aligning to their goals) helped gain quicker agreement. Its also a question of how collaborative we show ourselves to be in such a request. Escalation should be tried as the last option but if an inter-personal connect can be achieved and alignment made from an outcome/goal perspective, that would help a lot
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