Project Management

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Topics: Organizational Project Management, Risk Management
Stakeholder Management
Currently I am managing a project assisted by a very senior person. He is a Vice President - Engineering, of our company but he is not happy with our management due to various reasons. Hence he got very less or no vision in the project success. Engineering team is fully in his control, more of a Balanced Matrix Organization. Result of which, I am not able to get good support from my Engineering Team. Management is not ready to listen to this as they don't want to compromise with that senior person. Project is slipping very badly. How to handle this situation??
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As a project manager you should take the stand and be very assertive because if the project fails blame will be on you and your position will be at stake.

use the stakeholder assessment matrix and understand the impact,interest and power of each stakeholder and prepare a plan to tackle them and understand the reason for their non-supportiveness towards the project.

So before it is too late you try to have face-to-face meetings with all the key stakeholders like management,very senior person and communicate to them clearly how is project going and what are the consequences if the project is not supported by using your negotiation,influencing skills
Not be able to get good support from the team is one of the common issue when a senior person with more authority of the PM is involved. However I think that if a Vice President doesn't support adequately the project I suppose he has some good reasons (maybe project has a low priority level or something else). If it is not the case I agree with Bala about to use the stakeholder assessment matrix and try to have face-to-face meetings with all the key stakeholders like management,very senior person and communicate to them clearly.
I second Bala and suggest you to arrange face-to-face meetings to understand the reasons behind the Vice President's reasons for not supporting this project. Once you know the reasons tackle them as issues without getting into pointing at the VP as the cause of these issues, just focus on the problem at hand and seek solution. If you raise these issues as issues, management will need to support if they want the project to be successful. As a PM you will need to be assertive because at the end of the day you are responsible for the success or failure of the project.
I second, Bala, Paolo and Adil. You should put an agenda on what are the reasons behind this, how do you think you can solve them, and what do you need for management then meet with him face to face and discuss all these issues. You should stand up for the project and influence others by changing their views. Sometimes it doesnt work, I am not telling you it is the JackPot shot.
Thanks a lot for all your suggestions. But the issue is I tried to organize the meeting between the senior person & my management. Somehow they are not comfortable to confront each other. May be I will have to elaborate a bit. The senior person was the proposed candidate to replace as Project Director (Program Manager in our terms) but our management recruited a new person from outside. Conflict of interest playing a role here. Senior person demanding the role but management is reluctant to lay off the new guy, "in a way, he is also a senior & most experienced person".

Both my Management & Senior person is rated very high in the Assessment matrix (Of course, it will be). I am planning to give a detailed report to my Management about commercial impact, Customer disappointment, losing vision and missing target, and ask for solution.
1 reply by Rami Kaibni
Jan 04, 2016 11:50 AM
Rami Kaibni
Do you mean the Senior VP Engineering was supposed to take the post of Project Director then the company assigned a new person ? Well, if this is the case, then this is internal higher management conflict. You have to be very wise and diplomatic. Making a report and recording all impacts resulting from this conflict is very crucial but at some point they do have to meet.

This is really a very strange situation as I understoof from you that the Engineering VP and his team are not supporting the project as they should because the VP was not assigned as the PD. This should not happen, PD, VP, PM and everyone else should not value their personal interest over that of the project.
Awkward situation. You need to tread carefully. As they are unwilling to meet with you or together, I think you are right to put together a detailed report to your management. I'd stick very much to any facts about lack of support - e.g. project requested 78 hours of engineering time in week 3 but only 38% was provided, and include a recovery plan as to what needs to happen in order to get the project back onto schedule. I'd also work in parallel with other stakeholder engagement and see if I could get any senior allies from other relevant parts of the company- Vice President of Sales etc - who could help provide supporting weight in the balance of power.

this is a really difficult situation espacially for you in person, cause you are totally between the lines here.
This sounds to me that it is completly about the persons, there interests and psychologies.
And if you are not that experienced with such a kind of situations may be you need help here.
If your managament don't wanna confrontate the senior vice president (what seems really akward and kind of unprofessionall to me btw) than you may talk to them about involving a third party like a mediator or so.
You have to make clear that the project success essentially depends on a solution to this situation.
Another way - if you think you could handle it by yourself - would be to talk to both parties independent and may be out of your work environment.
Ask the senior person to have a drink or something and trsy to get "behind the scenes".
You have to practice really stakeholder engagement/management here.
May be you could use risk management to communicate the situation to your management ...

However, you as the person in charge (as the pm) have to become active in any way.

All the best.

Each initiative must be sold inside the organization including the senior management no matter they say "we will support it". I can write a lot, but my recomendation is using the selling method named "solution selling" or "spin selling". That´s works for me for years. Take a look, you can find it into the internet. Remember: people have explicit and implicit needs that you have to understand. The last once are the most dificult to find.
Thanks a lot for all your suggestions and views. It, indeed, required to boost up my confidence level. I was more confused and derailed but now looks like I got some vision and courage to fight against it. End of the day, I am fighting for the Organization's success and hope my management will understand that. I got nothing to loose from here but there is a world to succeed and the win, from here, will do world of good to me as a professional.
Reality is a matter of perception. And perception is a subjective matter that you have to make objective once while you work in project stakeholder management activities. What you perceived is the organization success could be wrong from the organization perspective (mainly managment). Projects are not yours. Projects belongs to the stakeholders. You are a mean to create what they need and somebody (usually the business analyst) has defined as the right solution for the business problems.
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