I am coordinating a subproject with two external partners in an IT integration project. My PM is constantly asking for accurate numbers and deadlines for the partners work

He says, the project needs to be done till december, although I know the following march would be very optimistic. The partners are not willing to sign any contract, they cannot fullfill. So I am currently running between my PM and the partners: "they can't give you numbers or deadlines in a contract for something they don't yet know or they don't believe is possible" - "they are external and they will have to" - ..... I can't chosse different partners and of course I can't choose another PM.

I prefer more of a "go ahead" style and would rather start working. I know that I have to adapt my communication style to the one of the PM.  I this case this would mean, that I would also have to change my general work style and I have a bad feeling about this.

Any ideas how to handle this situation?


thaGUma's picture

What is blocking the Partners? Are you feeding this back to your PM? There seems to be a mismatch in expectations that indicates your PM doesn't have the full picture or is not properly in tune. I suggest you assist by clarifying exactly what your Partners need to enable them to contract. If the partners don't know what they have to deliver, the PM needs to make sure the deliverables are properly specified. If the Partners aren't convinced in the delivery timescale you and the PM need to be clear whether the timescale is actually achievable. Which timeline do you trust? You get gold stars for bringing the Partners into line, you get mud if you force them into a timeline that is unachievable.

My preferance would be to get everyone into a room, whiteboard the issues and sit back for a bit... the PM wants delivery. The Partners want a contract.

Without chapter and verse on the external partering agreement and who is supposed to do what it is hard to say more.

Keep us up to date.


rjholohan's picture

I agree with Chris that a face-to-face meeting sounds to be required.  In return for a signed contract, there should be a clear and concise Statement of Work (SOW) that details deliverables, the timing of those deliverables, and how the deliverables will be measured.  Breaking the deliverables into small interim deliverables through the use of a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) will also probably help the Project Manager and the partner come into agreement on deliverables.  Once this is achieved, then a detailed schedule can be created by looking at what tasks are required to produce each deliverable.

Hopefully this helps.  I produced a podcast episode outlining 6 steps in creating successful schedules that can be found at the following link.  Hope it helps you and the PM:


Ron Holohan, PMP

Host of The Project Management Podcast





Trashbox's picture

The solution to the problem were my holidays. It forced my PM to talk with the partner directly and somehow, the problem was solved till I got back.

Lucky me :-)

What did I learn? All problems are about people and not about tasks. I just had another experience that proved this point, but I guess I will open another topic

pmhut's picture

In order to answer your question, one must ask, what's your position?

From what I've read and understood, it seems to me that you're a Project Coordinator, and that you're sandwiched in this whole thing. I have recently published an article on the challenges facing Project Coordinators (that you might find amusing and informative at the same time).

2 Excellent points from ther article:

- Role Ambiguity
- What matters to you, doesn’t necessarily matter to them

The person who wrote this article is a Project Coordinator herself!

Project Management - PM Hut