Case #3 - Office Move
This case study is just the opposite of the previous one. In this case, the project manager was a subject matter expert (SME) but without sufficient project management skills.
Jenny had spent a number of years working as an office assistant in a company that did office design and moves. She had an organized mind, thought logically and enjoyed what she did. She found that she started becoming involved more and more in the work that was being done rather that the administrative side. Eventually her boss suggested that she should help out with the organizing and she became a project manager by default rather than by training. As she gained more experience she was given more responsibility until she was expected to run projects from start to finish.
She 'met her match' one day when her company took on its biggest job ever. The project she was managing was to design offices and move a company into them. The only problem was that the client company had a large contingent of project managers and the directors of the company had never outsourced the project management of any of their office moves before. Jenny found the project 'traumatic' as the client insisted on a project management methodology being followed that included weekly project status meetings. In addition Jenny was being "micro-managed' by the client's directors who argued continually about the project deliverables.
These included cost as well as schedule (which changed a couple of times) and scope. To compound Jenny's challenges, the landlord of the new building was an extremely short-tempered, aggressive man who was annoyed that he had not been given the job instead of Jenny. As a result he appeared to be as obstructive as possible. The project eventually finished on budget but the client was not happy as the feeling was that a rush job had been done and there were too many items to be finished off after the move had taken place. The client conveniently chose to forget that the project had been quoted as a twelve week job that had been reduced to seven weeks due to the client's inability to sign off the project budget in time.
The project debriefing identified that Jenny had excellent skills at being an SME but that she had not followed any project management methodology. As a result there was a huge communication gap resulting in distrust on both sides. Here is an example of a project that was completed on time, almost within scope and quality despite all odds, yet the client was dissatisfied and the project manager got blamed.
Obviously, this project manager would benefit from formal project management skills training because this was not the first time she had had such an experience, although this had been the worst.
21. Jenny, in conversation with the author, July 2005