When house hunting, savvy shoppers quickly learn the meaning of some seemingly innocent phrases found in listing descriptions. For example, lots of potential means that you will have to spend a lot of money to make the house livable. Quaint implies that no upgrades have been made since the house was originally built.
When taking over a project from another project manager, similar rules apply. The customer, sponsor or departing project manager are all very motivated to get a competent replacement as quickly as possible. And while they wouldn’t blatantly mislead you, here are some telltale phrases to watch for while you are being wooed for the role.
We are a little over budget: The project has a cost variance which cannot be absorbed, metrics are likely not in place to quantify how big the problem is, and everyone involved is in denial.
We have a slick sponsor: That’s because he or she is made of Teflon with nothing sticking including escalated actions, risks, issues or decisions.
The team is very creative: I’ve just got two words for you – herding cats!
Stakeholders are very engaged: The only problem is that the majority of them are actively engaged in attempting to sabotage the project.
We’ve completed some deliverables: The team has produced a bunch of documentation.
There is a dynamic decision making process: Project governance processes were not well defined or practiced and decisions are being frequently challenged and reversed.
We are constantly learning: That’s because we are also constantly forgetting to apply the lessons we should have already learned.
This project will be a real feather in your cap: You’ll need the cap because you’ll likely tear all you hair out while managing it!
The project has been managed in an agile manner: Scope is constantly changing, nothing is documented, and everyone is doing whatever they feel like.
We have a project control book: Of course, no one looks and it because the content is very out-of-date.
You will need to roll your sleeves up: That’s because we have a significant resource shortfall.
While the purchase of a house might be the most significant personal investment many of us will make, leading a project represents an investment in our careers.