Everyone has the right to have a bad day. No matter if you’re an IT specialist responding a cyberattack, or a postal carrier being pursued and beaten by a Doberman – eventually you will all experience some turbulence.
A bad day for project managers is another. Project managers can be impacted by bad decisions and it can take many months to fix. Project management disasters can cause delays, budget cuts, and even the destruction of resources.
Real project managers shared their most memorable horror stories about project management in the spirit of Halloween. It is recommended that readers exercise discretion.
1. The Silence of the Consultants
Hire Hannibal Lecter not to work on your project
LinkedIn user Ian Peters from California, a PMP, and consultant, shared a disturbing tale of cliques, infighting, and misunderstandings on the group Project Manager Community.
I began my career as a consultant at a large London bank. It was obvious that there was a serious communication problem when I first arrived. Staff and consultants were working on the same project. They had formed different cliques and each group refused to talk to one another. –Ian Peters
Avoid the nightmare: Good communication is key to project management. It is impossible to manage teams that don’t communicate with each other. Soft skills are often more important for project managers than hard skills like scheduling, budgeting, scheduling, and managing resources.
2. The Mysterious Phantom Project
What lies behind a poorly planned project’s facade?
Martijn Sjoorda from Quora, a London-educated project manager, is our next story. He shares a cautionary tale about a near-miss, where an ill-advised plan almost cost his company millions of dollars.
I stopped a $25 million initiative, because the front-end rationale was flawed and no one would dare call it. So I did. The work was then completed and a smaller, aligned and risk-mitigated project was implemented. –Martijn Sjoorda
Avoid the nightmare: Poorly planned projects are not better if you throw more resources at them. Risk management software can help you ensure that your project has the right budget and scope before it starts. Sometimes, the best decision a project manager can make is to stop a doomed job before it starts.
3. The Tale of the Ghostly Information Provider
Ghosting is not a part of project management
Andrew Soswa is the next story. He is a Chicago-based project manager on the LinkedIn group Project Management Professionals PMP. His horror story is about the frustration of asking for specific information from a role-player, but getting ghostly silence.
Listening to no-response responses from those we expect to provide finite information –Andrew Soswa
Avoid the nightmare. Specific and timely information is crucial to the success of any project. Collaboration software can be used to centralize communications and hold everyone accountable for providing the information requested. You can tag someone in a conversation to make them respond publicly to your request for information.
4. The Amazing Mutating Client Arrangement
The horrendous Mutating Project
Peter Fitzgerald, a Twin Cities project director, is our final horror story. His story, which he shared with the Project Manager community LinkedIn group, involved miscommunication, client arrangements and remote teams.
My worst experience was with a client service arrangement. I was six steps away from the client and two countries away. The client had an arrangement with a parent company in a foreign country. The foreign office was acting as the client for the parent company office in the country.