Photo Credit Oktavdsaint
Politics are part of Humanity in every organization and every group of people from Public Schools to Wall Street Investment Banks. As certain as this is, the next step is how can you function and complete your agenda within this climate? How do you negotiate thru this and win and influence friends along the way?
As a PM, Consultant or Subject Matter Expert going into a new client engagement has many perils and uncertainties. Even if the project is with your company, once you take on the PM or consultant role you are designated as a change agent. We all know that for the most part people do not like to change.
This experience can almost be compared to the Navy Seals or Army Rangers dropping into enemy territory to begin a new mission.
Logistically, the PM is looking to identify allies, foes, troublemakers, direct their team in the correct direction for meeting their objective (the project plan). Build alliances that will allow their development to proceed and meet the milestones of the project plan.
Influencers can be developers who offer their “opinion” to the decision maker. Now the decision maker has multiple opinions to contend with – what does the PM do?
PM’s should assess the corporate environment and identify if this project has the right funding, will the stakeholder(s) stand behind this project and pm? Is this project critical to the organization? Will it make money for them or keep them out of jail? Meet with the stake holders and listen to their vision. Is that vision unified?
Does this organization have standards? Do they have an enterprise application architecture? Do they have an exception process for this architecture? Many times on a new project, new technologies will be evaluated for your project – this process can be a little chaotic if certain personalities are adding their suggestions. Having standards in place allows for a formal evaluation to protect your proposed architectu
The PM will begin to put together a political blueprint of how this project sits within the enterprise application portfolio and what factions are for or against this project. It is important to create this visual because you can organize it in your mind.
If projects don’t have the appropriate backing they should be downgraded to proof of concept or a straw man project. You have to have your stake holders with backbone who will support you when “Les Jeux Sont Fait” “The Chips are Down”.
Give some examples:
A manufacturer in NJ – heavy politics, jostling with IBM, a new CIO
A hazardous waste company in Utah, development in Utah, India
A multi-billion dollar non-profit, IBM building a data center, building a new 850 million building
A 2 billion dollar Direct Selling company in California, the owner dies, sold to 2 venture capital firms
Once at Nabisco we were working on an eBusiness Technical Architecture project. Certain factions were totally against the project but their apprehensions were kept in check. When the CIO changed the project from a POC to the firm’s architecture, the entire organization went wild….before it was OK, if it was the eBusiness Architecture but now that it was for the enterprise architecture – conflict erupted! One example, Nabisco had 13 different databases, typical of most large enterprise clients – was this going to change.
Along the way they will need food, supplies etc. like assistance like access to different environments and additional information which will be native to those environments.
All of this is critical for keeping the project moving forward and meeting milestones.
As a PM, have you ever reviewed some projects in your career and concluded you could have done things differently to have a more favorable outcome?
A Project Manager is a change agent to an organization, not everyone wants that project to succeed. Some of those individuals will use subliminal tactics to drag down and outright prevent progress.
How should a PM deal with this?
Stakeholders, allies etc.
A project should not be started unless there are stakeholders and they are on-line and backing this project. The stake holder should have enough political currency to solve political issues as they are brought up to him or her.
But remember , the child who cried wolf, the PM will need to deal with most political issues by themselves.
Basic questions around project integrity: Does this organization want to complete this project? Why?
These answers should determine how important this project is to the organization.
If you are doing a SAP upgrade, there is a high criticality factor associated with this project, if the project is for a much smaller function and degree of importance to the organization then take note.