Posted by: ThePMOView | July 6, 2012

Why do People Pay Me?

As a long time expert in the project management field, I always wondered why hire me to complete your projects when you obviously do not care what I say. Maybe it is just me that cares about this. If I hire a contractor to, say, redo my roof, even if I may have done one or two roofs myself in the past, I am going to listen to them as things have changed since I did them. Also he has seen a lot more roofing issues (i.e. worked for more companies), etc. than I have. Not only am I paying him a lot of money to redo my roof, but I am willing to accept that he actually may know more about roofing than I do.

However, when it comes to projects, especially IT ones I have done, it seems like all the Stakeholders want is someone to collect status reports and issues. They do not want to listen to best practices, how similar projects were done in the past, etc. Just a ‘do it our way’ and everything will be fine. Before you think this seldom happens, I will share the following true tale.

I was working on a major server upgrade project. We were in a project meeting with the Stakeholders which included the CIO. The discussion was revolving around the best way to migrate the data from the old servers to the new ones. I was explaining that given the data load on the network that currently existed, it would have a negative impact on the overnight data updates if we just did a straight data transfer between the servers (we could not setup a separate LAN for some reason that eludes me now). IT had developed a method to do this that would not impact the network, but they were short staffed so other tasks would be delayed while they setup and worked during the transfer.

The CIO, after discussing all of this, explained to the gathering that he had never had any issues with the network and the network should have no issues with the data transfer. I explained that a 10MB network only had a limited capacity and that this would saturate it to the point where everything would slow to a crawl. His direct quote to this is something I will never forget, “Things do not work like that here. This may have been the experience you have had elsewhere, but I can assure you that OUR (his emphasis, not mine) network can handle it.” I will leave things to reader to guess how this turned out.

So here I am, consulting for a major enterprise. Offering, not just my opinion but their IT staff’s as well, and a major decision maker is willing to ignore all of this. If this had been a one off, I could have accepted it and moved on. However, this happens a lot more than actual listening as in the roofing example above. Just makes me glad the CIO was not doing roofs, especially mine.


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