Why You Should Pay Attention to the Most Subtle Human Factors

We spent months in proposal development in addition to our normal project work – always in addition to our normal project work. We wrote thousands of pages of bid response, and then commandeered a FedEx® truck to deliver the exact number of copies of our proposal to the procuring agency at the last possible moment.

Even Executives Need to Pay Attention to the Human FactorsOur proposal fared very well in the evaluation process. Of the seven bidders, only two had enough scoring points to earn the right to present their proposals and “BAFOs” (Best and Final Offers) orally to the prospective client. As tired as we were, we nailed the Orals – all of us presenting and handing off to the next person like a well-oiled machine.

And then in came our Closer – our executive manager. I’m going to call him Sir J. He strutted and waxed eloquent as he threw one clinching argument after another. We could tell by the faces of the selection committee that Sir J. was striking a chord with each point. We were as good as selected.

And then came the final close. His signature close. The one that separated mere mortal clients from ones deserving of his time and talents. It went something like this: “and that’s how it’s going to be, ladies and gentlemen. That’s how we run projects. And (this last part was implied) if you can’t keep up, then we’re not the right Contractor for you.”

And apparently we were not.

We lost that bid in the final five minutes. It wasn’t a process issue – the client gave us high marks for our project execution methodology. It wasn’t a technical issue – we had been awarded maximum points for our proposed technical solution.

No, we lost because we didn’t take care of a people issue – in this case a senior, executive people issue.

Similar to my earlier article, How to Get a Project Started on the Right Foot – Tip 2 the proposal team was so wrapped up in doing well the things they did well, that they did not pay attention to the things that they should have paid attention to (and typically don’t do well).

Let me say that more clearly. The team did well technically. But it did not confront the people issue. And it cost them.

No one likes to confront the actions of their senior management. Sir J. had practiced his signature close at the team’s rehearsal for Orals. But the presentation team did not challenge him as to the wisdom of his signature close for this situation. We deserved to lose the bid. Either we knew the client or we did not. And if we really knew the client, we would have known how this particular approach would work. It was incumbent on the proposal team to warn Sir J. to prepare a softer close.

There is never an excuse to let the people issues slide by.

Pay attention to the people aspects of Project Management, and get the project started on the right foot!


Merv Jersak
If you want your IT projects to come in on time and within budget; if you want your clients to be your best ambassadors and your project teams to be committed to your success; if you want to stop leaving money on the table – then Merv Jersak is the mentor and coach who will work with you to help attain the results to which you aspire. With more than 40 years’ experience as an IT Project Management and systems consultant, Merv works with IT solution providers and end-user organizations, focusing on the people aspects of project delivery to drive more profit to the bottom line and to have fewer budget overruns.

To learn more about Merv’s service offerings, or to hire him to speak to your organization, visit www.PeopleFirstProjectManagement.com.

EMAIL merv@PeopleFirstProjectManagement.com // LINKEDIN www.linkedin.com/in/mervjersak

52 Project Management Success Tips from Merv Jersak  •  Copyright ©2020. All rights reserved.