29 June, 2005

Status Report

A Project Manager here doesn't actually manage the project. Instead they demand high-level status reports ("Don't tell me the details!") and insist on extra meetings when the schedule slips (which means preparing more reports, for which they don't want to hear the details).

The Project Team Leader is the poor unfortunate who gets to deal with the actual running of the project - managing resources, scope, activities etc. But because they're not officially called a Project Manager they're not allowed to talk to stakeholders without going through the Project Manager, who is supposed to act as the communication channel between the project and its stakeholders. I'm not allowed to be a project manager because I'm not part of the Project Management Office, but because I'm the one who'll be carrying on many of these tasks after the project ends, the Project Office hasn't quite worked out whether I'm allowed to talk to people or not.

What we have at the moment is an interim Project Manager, in place of the original PM who's had to concentrate on other work at the moment (while still acting as a kind of supervising PM). The interim PM is a contractor between projects - he was brought in to manage the creation of the disaster coordination centre, but came on after most of the budget had already been spent on a building with no IT infrastructure (apparently they didn't see the need for a project plan and simply ran amuck on construction until they ran out of cash. So the disaster part of that project seems to be working out okay). The interim PM is with us for another three weeks, I think, at which point we either get another PM, the original one comes back, or ... well, I don't know, really. I don't think anyone else does, either, at this point.

Because no new team leader has been appointed since the last one resigned, the interim PM and I have split the team leader responsibilities. I'm looking after day-to-day activities and am the nominal supervisor of the three temporary and one permanent staff member assigned to the project. The interim PM looks after the higher-level stuff and, because he's an official project manager, he's also allowed to talk to people outside of the project. In fact he more or less has to deal with the high-level stuff, because he has no background whatsoever in this field. And I'm still learning how this place operates.

It's a little bit like the blind leading the blind at times - I'm hoping we'll reach a one-eyed-man/Kingdom of the Blind equilibrium sometime soon, though. All we need to do is find the one-eyed man.


caircair said...

Just remember, "in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is a raving lunatic."

Argh said...

That was certainly how the organisation behind Death Spiral appeared to operate ... and continues to operate, if the news headlines are anything to go by.