List of Formal Excuses

During early years of a professional career, I was working with a small product-based company. The company had a reasonably good number of clients but was always short of resources. Generally delivery timelines communicated to the clients were estimated by resources used to be based on the best case scenarios and always on a critical path. As Project Manager, I always try to add reserve time to cover for possible delays before communicating the timelines to the client. The shortage of resources, unplanned availability of resources and rapid changes in the priorities by Senior Management along with many other factors, meant that the timeline was very rarely achieved on time.

The CEO of the company also didn’t have a positive attitude towards delays despite being well aware of the reasons for the delays and ground realities. He once suggested me to form a list of 20 formal excuses so that whenever we miss the timeline, we can use one of them as an excuse to the client.

The list was never formed thus the idea never got materialized. With passage of time, As I  gained some more experience in Project Management, I realized that it was never a good idea or a good practice. For me it is not just betraying the customer but also forcing the project towards the failure.

One rule that every Project Manager has to religiously follow is that he/she should keep all things as much transparent as possible for all the stakeholders. Good news or bad news, it is the duty of the Project Manager to break them to stakeholders as early as possible. Delaying on trying to keep bad news under the covers never helps rather it exponentially increases the magnitude of the problem.

This area has always been a point of difference in opinion between the PMO and the Sales teams and Marketing teams. Sales and Marketing teams have to sugarcoat things to always look good but the job of PMO is very different as it is their job is to keep things transparent. The project manager can never deny the inevitable by hiding or denying it so better to break it as soon as possible so that the relevant mitigation activity can be performed at the minimum possible damage level.

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