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Project Management Horror Stories

Project Management Horror Stories on Ganttic, October 29, 2020.

“A Jenga puzzle waiting to fall apart.”

Alan Zucker from Project Management Essentials recounts how the right leader can make or break your project.

“I was responsible for managing financial reporting applications for a large company. The finance organization had built hundreds of spreadsheets and databases to perform the monthly financial close which was a Jenga puzzle waiting to fall apart. The technology organization said that they could build an application to replace this mess AND they could complete the work in 9 months.

When the project started, I was not involved. The technology group did not need me or my team’s help. At the 6-month mark, they had barely made any progress and started to realize that they did need help. But they were resistant. As would be expected, there were some bruised egos.

Things became increasingly more antagonistic as time wore on. The one-year mark came and went with no end in sight for the project. My colleague on the technology side imploded in a rage of anger and had to be replaced.

When the new project leader started, we reset the project. Many of the activities related to configuring the accounting rules and testing moved from the technology team to my team. We asked for additional time and money. Most importantly the new project lead changed the relationship. Rather than being combative, she was collaborative. Rather than writing long scathing emails when changes were needed, she rolled up her sleeves to discuss options.

In the end, it took almost 2-years to complete the project. But the application was hugely successful. It significantly reduced the amount of time required to close the books and improved the financial controls. The application was used by the company for another 10-years.”

Tip: Even though a project is not always defined by its leader, this situation shows the importance of good leadership. Especially when dealing with difficult or uncertain circumstances. Read more about some of the qualities that make a leader competent when things are going wrong here.