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10 Sources of Project Conflict

When people start brandishing Sharpies in a manner never intended by the manufacturer, the big black mark across your cheek might be an indication that something has gone wrong with your project. How did you get to your current predicament? Bruce Harpham might have the answer, as he cites ten sources of project conflict in a post at his website.

Sources of the Sharpies

  1. Different stakeholder interests
  2. Project manager management style
  3. Project team history
  4. Scope changes
  5. Schedule changes
  6. Project failure (or cancellation)
  7. Declined change requests
  8. Disagreements with vendors
  9. Disputes over project management methodology
  10. Disagreement over communication methods

If one stakeholder is asking for red and another is asking for blue, neither one might be satisfied if you end up with purple. Likewise, when project managers shoot for a disciplined management structure, employees might take it the wrong way if managers do not articulate how their practices help the situation. Individual team members can cause tension too, if they have a confrontational style or just keep people on edge.

Scope and schedule changes are obvious sources of conflict, in that they both rupture the status quo in unwelcome ways. Being denied a change request can very similarly threaten the health of a project. In cases where the project actually fails, that is going to be the mother of all sources of conflict.

About vendor disagreements, Harpham says:

Many projects rely on vendors to deliver vital products and services. In many cases, the vendor and project team have different interpretations. Resolving these disagreements is time consuming and throws the project behind schedule. Whether you disagree about quality requirements, warranties or liability, vendor disagreements are a common source of project conflict.

Disagreements over project management methodology and communication methods lastly are things you might not intuitively recognize as sources of conflict, but they certainly can be. Harpham provides the example that there are people who prefer to absorb information through hearing it, and others who want to read it, and problems can arise when these needs are not adequately met.

For further insights, you can read the original post here:

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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