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How to Save a Project without a Team

Brad Egeland wants you to remember one of the biggest fears from your youth—the fear that if you throw a party, nobody will show up. Now imagine that you have a new project on your hands, you have engaged the client, and you have planned out exactly how to begin with your team. But what if the project team you were promised never shows up? It happened to Egeland, and here is how to deal with it.

Lonely, I’m Mr. Lonely

Here is how Egeland’s sorrows began:

I looked over the statement of work (SOW), looked over the estimate, the major tasks, the milestone dates, the skill sets needed, all the assumptions, and began working on the risks…I started to prepare for a formal kickoff meeting and started to firm up dates for that as well as milestone dates on the project with the project client…I even had a preliminary rollout date for the end solution that the customer liked….we were getting detailed. And then the bottom fell out as I was informed that we had no resources available at that time to fill the key roles that I need for the project. Damn! Now you tell me?!?!?!

Based off of his own survival experience, Egeland shares four recommendations to save the project as a one-man-or-woman show. The first is to go to the source by locating the “resource gatekeeper” in the organization to determine what went wrong. Rather than pick a fist fight with this person (or at least wait until afterward for the fist fight), communicate to ensure that such a calamity never happens to you or anyone else again. Then find out how long it will take to get your promised team (four weeks in Egeland’s case).

Next, be honest with the customer and inform him or her of the problem, explaining that the organization is having “growing pains” and that a lack of resources is an unfortunate consequence. If the customer cannot tolerate the delay, you may have to make a pressing argument to the management for why you need your new resources now, or else risk losing the project. Then you just have to rework the project plan based on the new timetables and estimated availability of resources. Once this is done, you must bring the plan back to the client yet again, to confirm one more time that everyone is still on the same page. To save a project like this, constant transparency and a barrage of apologies are crucial.

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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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