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Why CEOs never get a truthful answer about the progress of a project

As we know, in any technical development project many people are involved, however it is the CEO and senior management who ultimately own major investment projects within a business. As projects progress you can often feel like you are left out in the cold in regard to being kept in the loop regarding project progress.

Barriers between the CEO and Project Manager

Although there may be regular reports or presentations on the progress of the project made by the project manager and technical teams, how do you know if it is an honest representation of the state of the project? If you suspect there are barriers between you and the project management team these could be some of the underlying reasons.

● Reputational damage – Especially if a project is going wrong (over budget, over time, or non-deliverable products) the project team may feel that sugar-coating these problems when making progress reports is best. Perhaps they feel they can bring the project back on track before they need to concern you with it.

● CEOs don’t need to know everything – There is a general consensus that there is no need to worry senior management over every tiny blip, as it could potentially be blown out of proportion.

● Knowledge gap – It could be felt there is a knowledge gap between senior management and the project teams. This means that the team may feel detailed reports on all aspects of the project could muddy the waters further.

● Them and us – Although heading the project, if you show little interest in it other than requesting reports for the board or the shareholders there could be a reluctance to openly share any problems – until of course it is too late to hide it anymore.

● Haunted by your past – Despite your current position, your working background could influence the opinion the project team holds which could lead to the thought process of “What does the CEO know about digital transformation and its challenges, he’s a finance guy.” This can result in edited reports on the progress or delays of some elements of the project.

● Specific agenda – As CEO your agenda behind initiating information systems projects will be different to those in the project team who are facilitating it. The results you need for the stakeholders may not be easy for the project team to understand, which results in a different understanding of the importance of the project.

Adjusting the balance

The overriding reason that the project team does not always seem 100% honest could be down to a number of factors including a lack of trust, poor communication and a weak relationship between you and the team.

CEO’s should be able to demonstrate a genuine interest in the project and show a willingness to learn about some of the technical aspects of the project. Look to see how you can be more of an integral part of the team.

The more time you can be part of a project there will be less reliance on reports of progress. The more actively you are involved with the project you are likely to spot challenges as they happen. However, this is not always possible, especially if your organisation is overseeing a number of similar projects. At some point you will have doubts about the information you are being given about the progress of a technical project. This is where an independent third party can act as a ‘translator’ or intermediary between the project manager and the senior management team. Here at Brandon Cross we are able to carry out an independent review of your project, identify any gaps and ensure communication of the technical issues and challenges is clear, transparent and concise. We are able to understand the basics of the project and what it entails as well as being able to communicate this in a clear unbiased manner. If you would like to get your project back on track why not speak to a member of the team today?