Project management’s dirty little secret

In speaking with Michael Sheppard, a PhD student at the University of Waterloo and a veteran IT project manager, I heard a refreshing bit of insight into the minefield that is the art of project management. Sheppard pointed out, quite matter-of-factly, that a big part of a team’s responsiblity lies not just in ensuring the successful completion of the project, but also in managing expectations and putting an appropriate spin on things when they break down.

Speaking of his own experiences, Sheppard commented, “It may sound a bit manipulative, but in a sense, we often have made failures into succeses by readjusting expectations and good corporate communications.”

That means mentioning the deployment of 500 new laptops on time even though the new software deployment is a month behind schedule. It means sending the right message to ensure mass panic does not set in amongst decision makers. It means keeping partnerships as healthy as they can be. And it is a dirty little secret about project management that most managers have faced and which they must be prepared to handle in most situations.

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