Payson Hall is a consulting project manager for Catalysis Group, Inc. in Sacramento, California. Payson consults on project management issues and teaches project management. Email Payson at [email protected]. Follow him on twitter at @paysonhall.
Much time has been spent examining the project manager’s role in IT project success, but the role and duties of project sponsors are often overlooked—even though sponsors are an essential element of success (and failure). Here are ten rights and obligations a project sponsor should perform to improve project success.
The first step in any significant software procurement is to assure there is a clear definition of the business problem being solved. If you don’t know what you want, you aren’t prepared to negotiate for it, so you'll end up with a system or tool that isn't what you need—and you'll likely be disappointed at delivery.
Negotiation occurs on a spectrum, and different tactics apply in different situations. For instance, you’d treat a one-time transaction differently from an ongoing client relationship you want to nurture. Have you developed effective negotiating skills? Are you applying negotiating skills appropriate for the context?
Some project managers have little experience bringing a project in for a landing, so they can be dismayed or just blindsided by organizational change needs and stakeholders’ expectations at delivery. Here is a checklist of some commonly forgotten items to address when a project goes live, so be sure to plan for them.
There are people who will use "being agile" to justify software engineering practices that could be perceived as lazy or even bad. The specifications are going to change, they say, so it would be a waste to engineer more to begin with than the minimum viable product. What's expediency and what's just poor practice?
When you replace or significantly modify components of a larger system, too frequently we focus on whether the code we are building functions correctly. This is important, but it’s also short-sighted. It’s easy to introduce errors because we are changing interactions. Coding bugs are only one quality problem.
There is a big difference between a troubled project and a disaster, and not being clear about the distinction is hazardous to decision-making. If a project you're managing is in danger of missing deadlines, that doesn't mean it's out of control—you just need to explain to stakeholders how it can get back on track.