May 182012

One of my current projects has most of the actual work done by a single, external company.

Problem is, in ‘real’ life, this company is a client of ours, purchasing a significant total of product each year. Now, in this scenario, they are a vendor, supplying services and products back into my project.

This turns the question to ‘motivational’ techniques and leverage one might normally use to get a slow-performing subcontractor to shift gear. What to do when this party is ‘too busy’ to provide a decently detailed Gantt, ‘too busy’ to provide regular feedback and project status updates, ‘too busy’ because they are building and installing ? It’s not that they are unwilling to talk if one phones them up, it’s just that nothing is forthcoming without direct intervention and prodding and even then, nothing committed to writing by their project manager.

I’ve held regular discussion and documented the agreements. I’ve held regular project status review meetings and minuted the agreed actions and dates – and yet nothing seems to work.

On top of all this, the input documentation from the end-user side is somewhat [ok – lets say significantly] lacking in terms of accuracy and quantities, which means that we are months behind on original promised schedule with the ugly spectre of penalties looming on the final handover deadline.

So am I paranoid to be concerned about this? Maybe Yes. Maybe No !

Bottom line – nothing beats one-on-one communication. No-one is out to “get” anyone else. Everyone is just doing the best they can. Out of all the PMBoK knowledge areas “Communication Management” probably carries a greater weighting than any other. Speak to you sub-contractors and suppliers, engage with them verbally, in person and on the phone. Forget about eMail and faxes, letters and formal correspondence as a first option. Engage one-on-one.

If that doesn’t work and you can honestly say you’ve tried in person, then, and only then, resort to formal, legal, written threats !!

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