IT Management Blog: my thoughts about putting the "i" in IT

Understand the priorities given to your business stakeholders

As an IT project manager, you usually receive the direction from your steering committee that your project is very important and that you need to drive active participation by the business team.  You explain that they have limited time available because they already have so much on their plate. However the steering committee responds with the fact that they should make the time available.

The problem here is that those steering committee members (and/or sponsor) are usually the (direct) manager of those business team members. And you should not be surprised that when they speak 1:1 with those team members they give them a whole series of other high priority tasks which results in your project moving to a lower position on their priority list. There is clearly a misalignment between the various communications on priorities.

It is important for a project manager to find out if this is the case and bring this to the attention of the steering committee because otherwise you will only be criticised by not being able to deliver your work on time and you basically have no hope in hell to control your schedule. When you are aware of this, it is valuable information for other team members because this can avoid friction. For example a Business Analyst who is not able to get enough time of the business stakeholders to complete his work, could otherwise get agitated and come in conflict with those stakeholders.

If you explain the competing priorities as given to the team members to your steering committee and if they are taking the project serious, this can result in a radical change in behaviour from the respective business team members and suddenly your project flies.

The conflicting priorities could be addressed with effective portfolio and resource management but this is not always in place. That is a story by itself.