I Made My Project Red

We’re given tools as project managers, or project professionals, as leads of teams or departments to help us effectively manage our projects. There are a couple of things people tend to be afraid of. I love the status report. I think it is one of the best tools around.

How well do you use your status report?  Your status report serves multiple purposes. It is not just for reporting status and giving an update. It also can be used for cries for help, or to say “look at me”.

On a status report, most people use the typical traffic light indicators – green, amber, and red – to portray how their project is going. Green – we’re all going great. Amber – we’re okay, but things are starting to get a bit rocky. Red – somebody look at me because things are going wrong.

I, personally, have before turned my own project red. People tend to be afraid of doing this, but I’m not. I’ve turned my own project red before because the dependency I had on somebody else was not getting addressed. They were not doing what they needed to do.

No matter how much I asked, pleaded, and tried to influence them, it was not getting the attention that it needed. That can be for many different reasons.

What I did was use my tools. I raised an issue and made my project red. Because if that item I was dependent on wasn’t going to get done, then my project wasn’t either.

Don’t be afraid to make your project red. As a project manager, people think it reflects badly on them, but it doesn’t. In this case, what I was saying was,“Some stuff’s going on that I have no control over and it has an influence my project, which is making it red. I am turning my project status to red.”

However, sometimes you do also have to be prepared to speak up and admit if you have made a mistake that has ultimately resulted in your project falling into trouble.  You should have the guts to change your project status not matter who is at fault. Just make sure you are willing to work out a solution to resolve the problem. And by raising it on your status report you can then get the help required to put you back on track, don’t try and fix it alone. Alone is slower and potentially less effective.

Have you ever turned your project status red? Are you afraid to turn your project status red?  Some people don’t even make their project status amber when they should be.

Use your tools. They’re there for a reason.

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