Thursday, May 30, 2013

Escalate for timely issues resolution

One way to ensure timely completion of pre-defined project tasks is close follow-up. In reality tasks owners may have many tasks to perform simultaneously. Project managers needs to follow-up with them closely.

However, it may not work all the time. The task owner may simply don't have the bandwidth to perform the task. She or he may need to attend to another urgent or higher priority issue (personal or business). As in some cases, the duration planned may not be accurate and the task owner doesn't really have the skill set and expertise he or she is expected to have. 

Whatever it is, once a task is not completed on time per plan, then we have an issue here. But how can we ensure the issue does not  become chronic and impact the project schedule, cost or quality ? This is where, we need seek help. This is called escalation. 

Who do we escalate to ?  Depending on the issue at hand, we should escalate to either the program manager, client or project sponsor, partner's management, vendor's management or our own higher management. 

When do we escalate ?  This will be purely based on project managers judgement. But timely escalating is very important.

To be effective, the person that we escalate to should be provided right level information as what is it that we are escalating about and what kind of help are we seeking from them. The tough part is to ensure our relationship with the task owner is not damaged. This is a challenge because some people can take this personal. However, we also cannot delay escalation because higher management or sponsors hate surprises especially if it negative news. It is better for them to be aware of the current state of the project and not be surprised. In fact escalation should be seen as a healthy way of communication or not healthy to have it done  frequently.

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