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Effective Software Project Management by Robert K. Wysocki Ph.D.

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Problem Escalation

Something has happened that put the project plan at risk. Late shipments from suppliers, equipment malfunction, sickness, random acts of nature, resignations, priority changes, errors, and a host of other factors give rise to problems that can affect deliverables, deliverable schedules, and resource schedules. The project manager owns the problem and must find a solution.

This situation is very different for the project manager than the case of a change request. When a change request has been made, the project manager has some leverage with the customer. The customer wants something and might be willing to negotiate to an acceptable resolution. That is not the case when a problem has arisen on the project team. The project manager does not have any leverage and is in a much more difficult position.

When the unplanned happens, the project manager needs to determine the extent of the problem and take the appropriate corrective measures. Minor variations from plan will occur and may not require corrective measures. There are degrees of corrective measures available to the project manager. In trying to resolve the problem, the project manager will begin at the top of the following list and work down the list, examining each choice until one is found that solves the problem.

There are three levels of escalation strategy: project manager–based, resource manager–based, and customer-based.

Project Manager–Based Strategies

If the problem occurs within a non-critical ...

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