Project Management

The Causes of Conflict on Project Teams

Without a doubt, you are going to run into conflict in your project. You may have a difficult stakeholder or disagreements about a deliverable’s feature, for instance. Sometimes, project managers practically go out looking for conflict, according to Elizabeth Harrin. In a post at A Girl’s Guide to Project Management, she overviews where you get conflict during the project life cycle and who is involved in it.

Feeling Conflicted

First, there is the concept or initiation phase. This phase is where you are getting the project up and running, working out the fundamentals. Conflict comes along even in this phase through: between the sponsor and users about requirements or cost, with the sponsor over the requirements, and between the sponsor and portfolio management about business case approval.

Next, there is the definition phase. This phase is when the project is properly scoped and fleshed out. Here you may find conflict between the project manager and team leaders due to a difference of opinion about planning, roles and responsibilities, or around assigning risk ownership. As well you may find conflict arise between the project manager and sponsor because over reviewing scope.

Third is the development stage, where a lot of the heavy lifting and also a lot of friction occurs. Here is how it might happen:

  • The project manager and sponsor[:] Due to changes to scope and at any key decision making point, for example, risk response plans
  • The project manager and team[:] Around resource or task allocation
  • The project manager and team leaders[:] Around resource or task allocation
  • The project manager and functional managers[:] Around resource or task allocation (see a pattern?)
  • The project manager and users[:] As a result of quality control and checking.

Lastly there is the handover and close-out phase. This is where you are wrapping up the project as you’re handing it over to the business. Risks for conflict could come from the project manager and users at the point of handover of deliverables, and from the project manager and the operational team if there is a discrepancy over the project team.

Do your best to sort out every loose end and make sure you take care of any last conflict situations before you walk away from the project. You can access the original post here:

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