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The Project Sponsor Just Doesn’t Care…

And the project is going nowhere! HELP!

Here’s a story to consider.

Sam has just been assigned a major project to install and implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system within his company. The company has 75 employees and has been in business a number of years. There are sales and marketing folks within the company. In the past, no CRM system has been used but rather information on sales and marketing are stored in a shared database. Sam has been a project manager for over 10 years. He has managed a variety of projects, of a variety of sizes.  The sponsor of the project is the VP of Sales and Marketing. He has been interested in getting a CRM in place for a number of years to better track sales and marketing efforts.

As part of the requirement gathering process Sam needed to understand current sales and marketing processes in place and how the CRM was to be used by various groups. He scheduled a meeting with some key individuals to gather some initial data: the project sponsor (VP of Sales and Marketing), the director of sales, the director of marketing, finance and the operations folks.

And here is where the problems began…

The meeting was scheduled for an hour and went for 1 1/2 hours. At the end of the 1 1/2 hours, Sam still did not have the information he needed:

  • Sales and marketing processes were not written anywhere and Sam could not get agreement on what current processes existed.
  • There was a resistance to mapping out processes as, per the participants who attended the meeting said, it would mean creativity and the ability to be effective in doing the job would be in detriment.

Finance, on the other hand, wanted processes in place and mapped out in order to determine exact needs so they could fund the project (and specifically the CRM system). They were not willing to move forward with any approvals until processes were mapped out. Operations had their own processes in place and, during this meeting, expressed their frustration that it seemed to them sales and marketing had no particular processes which impacted how they do their job. Needless to say…the meeting did not end well.

Obviously there was a problem here that existed long before this project was assigned to Sam. And he needed to find a way to get past it and move this project forward.

Sam took the next step of asking for a meeting with the project sponsor – the VP of Sales and Marketing. In the meeting Sam voiced his concerns about the meeting to gather data and asked for help from the sponsor. The sponsor’s response was that he did not have the time to develop processes or push to get it done since sales was up against revenue targets that had to be made and marketing needed to help them through meet those targets. However, he added,  if Sam wanted to work on developing their processes, that was fine with him.

Sam left the meeting stunned. How was he supposed to develop processes for sales and marketing? They understood how they worked, not him. He wondered what to do next….

Your thoughts? What should Sam do now? How would you handle the situation? Please share your ideas in the Comments field below.