Scenarios and Situations

Discussing real-life problem scenarios is a very effective learning activity.  In this section of our web site Successful Project’s provides “scenarios and situations” that instuctors can use in the classroom.


Scenarios and Situations for PM Instructors Use

No Authority

My projects span organizational departments and I find myself relying on people whom I have no authority over. I often have difficulty enlisting them as accountable, enthusiastic team members. How can I change things so that I can count on them?

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Rushed Through Decisions

Our project team is overworked and the project decisions we are faced with can be controversial and difficult.

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Abrasive Team Member

Mary comes into your office very upset and insists that one of the other project team members, Sam, is creating very bad chemistry on the team and must be taken off this project. Sam knows his stuff and his products are very good. However, the abrasive way he delivers his frequent unsolicited technical input and feedback to others is creating friction on the team and distracting them from what they have to do.

 “He’s gotta go”, Mary insists, “immediately!.” As you listen, it occurs to you that you have absolutely no other work for the Sam to do if he is taken off this project. And his work products have been highly praised by the project’s sponsor. What do you do?

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Unclear Scope

As your project team is planning the WBS and work assignments, there is a lot of disagreement about what work is actually to be included in this particular project. When issues of software testing, user training, and documentation came up some people thought it should be part of the project while others said that since the customer didn’t specifically ask for it that it should not be included. Other work that was listed still has a great deal of confusion regarding specifications. Also during this planning, there are some new creative ideas, that would add some work but that would also be very valuable, that have come out of the team that you think the customers could love.

 The schedule and the budget are clearly specified. What do you do?

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Stakeholder Expectations

On my last couple of projects I have thought everything was going great, but then my project stakeholders have surprised me with negative feedback towards the end. It’s shaken my confidence and makes me wonder if, no matter how hard I try, I’ll ever be able to please them.

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Deadline Change

You get a call from your project’s sponsor. You’ve been working on the project for a year and the two of you have a good business relationship. You’re 2 months away from the project deadline and she wants the deadline bumped up by 3 weeks. She says it is due to an unforeseen market change and it is critical – so much so that the project will be worthless if it is not received by the new deadline. You know that meeting this new deadline will be particularly challenging due to some personal vacations and training plans that your project team members had planned during this timeframe. What do you do?
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Unavailable Customer

During the ealy stages of a project you need to review some important details with the customer, but he is difficult to reach and doesn’t want to be involved….

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There often is no right or wrong answer to situations or scenarios. What is beneficial though is having insight into how you go about making project management decisions, remembering that planning for these situations in advance will help you perform better,  and in discussing the consequences of your decisions.

 In the daily tumult of project management, our attention is inevitably focused on what we’re deciding while how we’re making those decisions usually goes without notice or consideration. Practicing realistic situations and scenarios can significantly improve on-the-job performance because it helps you build values, philosophies, and good thinking processes that can help you make good decisions more quickly in the future.