Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Different phases in a project

Why are some tough projects recalled with fond memories, while a few other (also successful) projects not given the same treatment by people? I believe it has to do with the environment in which the project was executed.

Factors like the trust within the team and how the different stake holders interact, make or mar the project atmosphere. The relationship that exists between the stake holders makes a difficult project easier and an easy project difficult. for e.g. bad relationship between the project team and the business unit can easily spoil/poison the project environment.

This gives us the opportunity to look at a project through the nature of the human relationship and we can classify the life cycle of a project into four different phases.  
  1. Handshake with velvet gloves: In this phase everything proceeds well and people are nice to each other. Aka honeymoon stage at the start of the project. 
  2. Grip is too tight for comfort: Honeymoon period is over and reality begins to bite. But people are still nice to each other. Things are progressing well in the project.
  3. Gloves are off: Things are not that well. Niceties are dispensed with and people are waiting to pounce on each other.
  4. Knives are out: Things have gone worse. Each side is looking to make a scapegoat of the other for the mess.
Good projects get completed within the first two phases itself.
Projects that go bad enter phase 3 and if the project is able to bounce back, it enters back phase 2.
Projects in which the atmosphere is so damaged enter phase 4. Once a project enters this phase, it is very difficult (close to impossible) for it to bounce back.

This brings into spotlight the role of the project manager and key stake holders. This group has to make certain that human relationships are maintained at a healthy & competitive level and make the project deliver. They also have the added duty to ensure that people get enough opportunities think of the project as a good project to work and remember it so, years after the project is over.

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