Every so often, we hear about a company or organization with a technology project that has gone wildly over budget – like by a factor of 10 or 20 or more. We’ll never know exactly what went wrong, but it’s probably fair to say that both parties should take some of the blame.
While the implementation partner is responsible for managing the client and not letting the project get out of hand, dealing with large organizations (public or private) can be difficult and “control” can be a nebulous concept. You probably have your own experience with a project that felt like it had a mind of its own.
This scenario usually comes down to scope management; that means determining requirements scope, technical scope, deployment scope and other kinds. Project scope needs to be actively defined, controlled and forecasted.
Forecasting is the key here. It’s a plan to save the client from themselves.
When you forecast scope changes, you are predicting the scope changes that could happen – including the worst-case scenario if scope gets out of control. This also encompasses what steps you will take to ensure the scope changes don’t go too far and endanger the feasibility of the project.
In an extreme scenario, the implementation partner must be prepared to tell the client that the project will go off the rails unless something changes. That’s a really tough conversation to have, but it’s one of the best services an implementation partner can provide.
Each partner will have their own methods when it comes to forecasting, but the bottom line is that they should be able to warn a client early on if the project is heading in the wrong direction – and lay out the consequences. Regardless of the size or budget of the project, I would rather be fired for saying something early than staying silent and spending lots of money without delivering.
Don’t let the project manage you. Work with a partner who has proven they can manage scope and, if needed, have the tough conversations.