A difficult project is usually a result of external influences and circumstances, beyond project team control.
Chaotic processes, blurred roles and responsibilities between team members, unrelated and stand alone resource-consuming activities, scattered resources make a messy project.
Mess is usually self-created and contributed to by team members in a laisser-faire type of project management. “Do not do today what can be done tomorrow” leisurely style.
What can you do if you find yourself in charge of a messy project?
For a “change”, you can create your own MESS:
Measure what can be measured: time to task completion, delivery delays, number and price of units for inputs etc.
Evaluate why is it taking so much time/ resources. Why things do not work in the team. Where is the bottleneck.
Solve things that can be solved quickly, for a team motivation boost.
Submit results to sponsor/client.
Keep doing it until sail is on course.
A project story: a project was dragging its feet for eight months, in a 18 month timeline. It had:
– three team members,
– a beginner project manager, with very little experience and no coaching,
– no activities in sight and lots of email traffic,
– an abundance of frustration between field and headquarter’s team members,
– a client left to wonder why it wanted the services in the first place.
After a quick MESS by the new the project manager, the project was recovered and reached 96% of spending. It delivered the promised on time. The solution was to facilitate the team’s access to inputs (international expertise in this case). The client was happy and asked to continue the collaboration. From MESS to mission accomplished.
What’s your experience with messy projects?