Rescuing Troubled Projects 6
This is the sixth installment of Rescuing Troubled Projects. This time we will discuss status reporting and financials for large troubled projects. If you missed any of the prior installments, then you can read them here.
That’s right; this is what clients will think of you when you arrive at a troubled project. They think you are there to burn through more of their money. So, don’t hand your client the club to hit you with! I am talking about your status report.
Now, I have been as guilty of this as the next PM. However, often the primary public view of your project is your status report. They are almost always project deliverables. On troubled projects, you can expect that the prior status reports have been pretty bleak. The reports were most likely bathed in red for a long time before you arrived.
You should view status reports as a communications and sales tool. You want to make sure that people receive the right message from your status. When I say that there is no status like NO status, I mean that it is better to not give status than to give meaningless, confusing, or obviously misleading status. This is where the PM should work to set expectations. Don’t give rosy phony reports! Give clear and concise reports that deliver the message you want your readers to receive.
A status report is a chance to point out your accomplishments, to let people know what to expect, and to solicit assistance from your client. Think of a status report the same way you would a proposal you want the client to buy. What do you want the client to know? What do you want the client to do? Put that information up front in a graphic or some easy to assimilate format.
Discuss how your client is measured with your client contact. Then, provide the status information in a format that your contact can easily assimilate into his or her status. This will help your customer satisfaction, help you control the relationship, and it will support the full circle of project, client, and PMO reporting.
One more thing…
Make certain that you know the financials for your project! While this is one of the most hated aspects of project management, it is also easily one of the most critical contributors to success. Even so, many PMs neglect to clearly understand and manage the financials for their projects.
Begin by reviewing the financials with the Project Management Office (PMO) and your client contact in detail. Make sure your understandings match! Often, the client uses a different set of measurements than your PMO does. Read all the contracts and work orders carefully, and review the client’s and PMO’s expectations.
Verify how the client’s financials are measured. Then ensure that you set up your project’s financials to correctly report to the PMO and to feed the correct information to the client to meet the client’s financial reporting cycle.
Synchronize with your client contact on a regular basis. This will make what you report in your status both believable and quickly accepted. It will also save the embarrassment of reaching the end of the project thinking you are okay and having your client scream about overruns.
Next time we will discuss the techniques to avoid.
See you then!