Know what chaps my hide?

“Know what chaps my hide?”

Client Executives become frustrated when IT blames themThat was a common expression among the farmers in the small community where I grew up. This phrase was used in complaining about government interference, or the threat of insects, or bad weather, or whatever might hinder the crop from coming in that year.

So now I ask you, “Know what chaps MY hide?”

I’ll tell you. It’s IT providers that take advantage of their clients.

In blog posts preceding this one, I discuss focusing on the people aspects of project delivery when planning the management of the project schedule. Specifically, I appeal to IT to include client project staff in the project planning process.

In the post entitled, “Why You Must Involve the Client in Schedule Management Planning,” I use an example from my personal experience. I describe that, despite the improbability of being able to complete the project within the given timelines, the standard answer was, “Make it work.” This was especially true of fixed-price engagements, and it happened on more than one occasion.

Now to be fair, the client organization often put the IT provider into the position of having to “make it work.” An inexperienced client organization may publish an aggressive deadline for the overall project and include excessive functional scope to be delivered. Legislative mandates, organization directives and other such environmental factors may also pressure the organization to dictate unreasonable deadlines. The IT provider (particularly external providers) is then forced to bid to that deadline or forgo bidding the project altogether.

So the IT provider pulls every trick in the project management software arsenal – overlapping tasks, aggressive duration estimates, start-to-start relationships where dependency is warranted, documented assumptions and others. IT is well aware that every planet must align perfectly for successful project completion.

The client accepts the proposed project schedule, taking IT at its word. After all, the project schedule says it’s possible. After all, IT is the expert.

But here’s what chaps my hide; and it goes back to my example. I remember distinctly telling my Project Manager / Bid Manager that the project plan can’t work, that the schedule is too aggressive even for our very experienced practitioners, and that it’s impossible for the client team members to meet their deadlines. If the client team members miss their deadlines, those missed deadlines reflect on our ability to meet ours.

“Exactly,” was the common response. “If they can’t meet their responsibilities timely, we hit them with change requests. We’ll bring the schedule back in line to where it should have been in the first place.”

Us versus them. Experience versus naivete. That is NOT how to involve the client staff in planning schedule management for a successful project delivery.

And that chaps my hide.

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