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Sometimes I get asked in to support the manager of a failing project.

Most of the time I get to take over a failing project, with or without the previous manager’s involvement.

Occasionally I am called in to act as a Project Manager for clients who have brought in Systems Integrators and Management Consultants to do most of the project work.

After all, don’t they all claim to have successfully done these things many times before?

I am hired to act as both project management on the one hand, and client oversight on the other, making sure that the integrators and the consultants do the right thing, right, on time and to spec.

On one project I had a particular obnoxious fellow Project Manager (from the vendor) . Of course I was obliged to work with them, day in and day out.

Not only did they act as PM, but when it came to architecture, they were immovable in their opinions.

Being responsible for Business Analysis and Development I came into contact with much of the detail related to the business process and the technical architecture.

The business process I managed to change, without too much trouble.

The architecture was a massive fail just waiting to happen.

Technical issues abounded, and everything was delayed. Nothing was delivered on time, nothing was of any discernible quality beyond dismal, and much was incomplete.

Every day at our project meeting about deficiencies in the solutions architecture. The vendor PM hated my questions and would frequently try and brow beat me.

I would have none of it.

I insisted on getting in an expert to carry out a health check on the architecture.

This was the last straw.

And the Project Lead in a fit of hubris exclaims. “Look, we’ve used this approach on a few projects now, so I don’t see why you are telling us we are wrong?”

Then one of the senior consultant leads expresses their opinion.

“Martyn is right, we should take up his suggestion. And yes, Nigel, we did use this approach on all off those other projects we have worked on as well and all those projects were failures too, not one of them was a success”.

That admission alone reinforced my faith in humankind.

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