Here is a tough project management challenge. What would You do?

Company A is the prime contractor of a project for one of its major clients, company C.
Company A subcontracts company B to do the project management and development of the project.
The project has entered its last third and is in the red zone with problems reported in the performance of the final product.
Company A brings in a project manager (outsourced from another company, you!) to turn the project successful and the client happy.

- Subcontracted company B has a longer history and relationship with the client C than the prime contractor A, resulting in:
 -- B having higher credibility to the eyes of the client than A
 -- Members of B having direct communication with the client C (e.g. a director of the client C talks directly to a technical leader of the development team of B)
- The platform on which the final product is developed belongs to the prime contractor A; The subcontracted company B (which is developing the final product) is blaming this platform for the performance problems.

You are the fortunate project manager brought in and you are asked to enter in between the subcontracted company B and the client C (which seems indeed the normal place to be for the PM), resolve the problems and pull the rabbit out of the hat by getting client C to buy more projects from contractor A.

What would your strategy be?
What would you be aware of or avoid?


jhack's picture

Your best strategy is openness, transparency, and a dedication to problem solving. 

Either the parties involved want to resolve this, and will work with you, or they won't and the situation will get very ugly.  In either case, Company D's best strategy is to take the high road.  And the first thing you do is tell everyone your strategy.  Let company A know that if their platform is the problem, you're going to let everyone know it, and work with them to create a plan to fix it.  And let B know that if their team is at fault, everyone will be working together to get the right skill sets in place, and remediate any work that needs fixing.  Let Company C know that you are going to act with integrity and share your findings with them.  

Stick to facts.  You can't change the past, so focus on facts you need to get the project back on track.  Ignore the politics - there's too much history to overcome, so transcend it.  Company C is probably smarter than they let on, and you're best to be straight with them. 

And as Mark would say:  stay frosty. 

John Hack

asteriskrntt1's picture

I can't see Company C being thrilled that you are telling them they made a major mistake in going with Company A's platform.  Like John says, stay above the fray and focus on getting the issue resolved, not assigning blame.