Wednesday, January 3, 2007

January 3, 2007 - NMJ (Not My Job)

A project manager once came to me with an interesting dilemma. It seems the manager for one of her projects was asking her for status reports on projects she wasn’t even involved with. As she explained the situation it became clear that this manager had not assigned PMs to 3 or 4 projects that he was responsible for. She felt trapped. She couldn’t easily say, “Hey! That’s NMJ (Not My Job)!”

My suggested solution was to handle it like a change request. First, determine the amount of time spent on a weekly basis to gather, document and present the status for each project. Depending on the level of reporting this could be significant (i.e. progress reporting, financial reporting, issue and risk reporting, defect reports, etc.). For this PM the effort was compounded by the fact that she wasn’t remotely part of any of the projects.

Second, meet with the manager and explain the impact this is having on other projects. Show him the estimates and point out that these projects need their own PMs assigned that are able to do more than just report status. In essence, verbally issue a change request and ask if this should be made part of your project. This ought to be enough to make him see the problem and find a different solution.

However, if he insists the reporting continue you may have a decision to make: live with it or say, “No.” For the “just say no” side, I was once asked to add a fourth project to my workload. In that case I explained that I could not successfully manage another and declined. I know the manager was disappointed and I probably lost some of his respect, but I knew it wasn’t possible.

If your decision is to continue doing the reporting, at least make sure you are placed on the projects for time reporting or billing purposes so the effort is taken from the right budget. This will help hammer home the impact without killing the budget of your original project.

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