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The Power of “I Told You So”
By Thomas Cutting

It is a wonderful feeling to be right, especially when you prove someone else wrong. Unfortunately, as project managers most of what we predict is bad news: our project schedules foretell that we won’t be able to get done on time; our budget analysis estimates we will be run out of money; we can’t add that change to the scope and still meet the deadlines. Somehow we are expected to be miracle workers and get it all done on time and within budget. When it doesn’t happen it is our fault. So when we are able to say, “I told you so” what they hear is “I failed.”

Although there is you can rarely use the actual words, there is power in letting people know it. The real power comes when everyone knows it and you didn’t have to say it. From a budget, cost and schedule stand point you can wager your reputation that you are right by placing your B.E.T.S. (Baseline, Estimate, Track, and Status).

Baseline. A baseline is a benchmark against which a measurement can be compared. Set the baselines for your project to the scope statement, established budget and promised end date even if they are unattainable. This is what you have been given to work with and they establish the project goals.

Estimate. Determining and documenting a realistic estimate is important. Go to the team and together work out an aggressive but achievable assessment. It should include enough detail to show if the baseline is achievable. This estimate becomes your “I’m telling you now so I can say I told you so later” statement. The trick is to present it so it doesn’t sound like you are saying, “I’m going to prove you wrong.” Call it the current estimate based on available information and let them know you are working to reduce the variance.

Track. People get away with asking for early dates and low budgets because the effort isn’t tracked and compared against the original request. By collecting actual effort and re-estimating the remaining work throughout the project you can show progress against the budget and schedule. Over time these statistics will show how the project is progressing toward its goals.

Status. On a weekly basis a status report should be issued that indicates where you are in the project compared to where you thought we should be. Analyze the data to show what effects your correctional steps are having on bring the project in on time and within budget. The object of the status report is to make sure there are no surprises if the deadline and / or budget are both blown.

In the end you probably won’t be able to stick your tongue out and say, “I told you so.” You might be able to word it like “This is what we were able to accomplish with the time, resources and budget that we had.” It may not feel as good as “I told you so” but they will get the picture and it won’t burn any bridges.

Thomas Cutting, PMP is the owner of Cutting’s Edge (http://www.cuttingsedge.com/) and is a speaker, writer, trainer and mentor. He offers nearly random Project Management insights from a very diverse background that covers entertainment, retail, insurance, banking, healthcare and automotive verticals. He delivers real world, practical lessons learned with a twist of humor. Thomas has spoken at PMI and PSQT Conferences and is a regular contributor to several Project Management sites. He has a blog at (http://cuttingsedgepm.blogspot.com).

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