When a project goes wrong it can be all to easy to look around for someone to blame.
It is also, very easy to blame yourself and ask what could I have done differently. It is easy to see why you would do this but it is also fair to say that the share of any blame should be evenly spread. That would therefore include the client. It also makes sense as the client has as much input as you if not more. They are also controlling the direction, attitude and the speed of the project.
When a project goes wrong you can almost always bet that the client has a hand in it. If the client doesn’t supply the content, answer your questions and doesn’t help you keep things moving, your project will be late and you will be left looking like you messed up.
So what should you do whe a project goes wrong?
Well this comes down to communication, and planning. The old saying “fail to prepare and you must prepare to fail” is never truer. You need to take control from day one. The client is looking to you for directio so either shit, or get off the pot. You need to have the plan and the project must be kept on track by constantly updating the plan which like all things in life must be adaptable and needs to evolve.
basecamp is a great collaborative project planning solution, as is MS Project. I have used both and they both have their merits. But you don’t need to pay money to get good results, a good checklist is often quicker and easier. In my experience anything that is easy is much more likely to be used, and that is the real key to project management. If you have a list of what needs to be done (some call this a functional decomposition – ie a list of functions) then you cross them off you know how much is left to do. When you find a new task that was never on your list (and yuo almost certainly will) add it to the list and make sure everyone involved in the project can see that new tasks have come to light. They will be much more forgiving if your deadline slips if they are away of any challenges than if you try to be a hero.
Please give me your feedback. I’d love to hear about your failed projects, and your successes but please only where the client made the difference…