Project Practitioners > Be prepared!

Be prepared!

By Nova Rose

It was 3:30 on a Thursday afternoon, and a group of executives were putting the final touches on the agenda for the board meeting scheduled to begin in an hour. This time, my project was on the agenda for additional funds. Usually this means a vote on consent and not necessarily a presentation. For some reason I started to carefully look through the bulky agenda document and right there under presentation was my project. How could I have missed this? I had taken it for granted that this would be easy sailing since funds were already available and I was only seeking permission to use more.

In 45 minutes I had to be ready to speak about my project citing the purpose, money spent to date and why more was needed. Not only that, I had to be ready for any question thrown at me from the board members and not just about my project, but any other project within my division.

It went well, but was I lucky? No, but I was prepared. As project managers so many things are happening daily and we may not always be able to keep every piece of information in our heads. The important thing I learned that day is that the elevator speech that I have been using to tell anyone who would listen about the project and all the status meetings with the sponsor had made me very ready for any question from anyone, even board members. The other thing that helped me well was the knowledge of where my projects fit in the organization’s strategy and also within the division. Now I tell any new project manager that the most important thing to remember is the mission of the project and why we are undertaking it.

Not all comments are posted. Posted comments are subject to editing for clarity and length.

Indeed, there is a need to be prepared in such instances. There are as always, many projects that seek approval and compete for the resources. When I was leading the project review committee, we spend hours before the meeting drilling into the project's approval paper, the calculations of the project financials, costs and the benefits realisations.
Somehow, board level members wanted to hear whether this is a strategic project and the benefits.
I had seen unprepared project managers that could not answer on the questions from the senior management and CIO.
Keeping a cool and level head is also equally important.
If the boss of the project manager is amongst those present in the meeting, it is a good idea to share with him/her on the materials and message prior to the meeting.
Yes - even the smallest details does not escape the eyes of the CFO or CIO.
After all, we are talking about millions of dollars and the C level executives would want to have a big picture view while the finance needs to work alongside with the project manager to compute the business case and financial justifications.

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