A project manager is holding up a notecard that says "No!".If you want to achieve more success in your projects then one of the keys lies in learning to say “no” more often. Too often we can feel that this is a negative, unpleasant thing to do but it is also necessary at times like in the following situations.

You Need Your Resources

Battles over resources are something you might need to get used to in the project manager role. The first struggle can be in getting hold of the resources you need in the first place but then you are faced with having to hold on to them throughout the term of the project as well. If you have borrowed staff from other business areas then this could be a particularly tricky point, as you could find that either their original team needs them back or another part of the overall project needs them as much as you do. The same can also apply to other types of resource such as computers and office space. It is a very delicate subject but you need to fight your corner for what your project needs in order to be a success. If you simply can’t get the resources you need or feel that there is a danger of them being taken away from then you should highlight this concern in the issues and risks log. You can then make sure that your stakeholders are well aware of the impact this could have on the piece of work you are in charge of.

You Don’t Want Scope Creep

Scope creep is one of the big fears of most project managers. If you have started out with a well defined project you certainly don’t want to see it expanding all the time. A lot of stakeholders will appreciate this but others may be keen to try and get the project increased according to their changing needs. The first thing you need to do is make clear at the very start that no changes will be made without them being properly authorised by the appropriate people in the company. This means that no one can just come to you and ask you to add in a little bit of this or a little bit of that. Every possible change in the scope needs to be fully studied before being passed on for the final decision to be taken on it.

You Can’t Change the Dates

At the start of the project you will have drawn up a detailed plan which has been designed to guide you through the piece of work as smoothly as possible. This is one of the best tools you will have so you don’t want to go and change it without a very good reason. It is similar to the previous point about scope changes, in that a strict change control process needs to be put in place to ensure that you don’t get pressure put on you to make changes as the work evolves. Clearly there may be cases in which there is an overwhelming business reason for getting the work delivered earlier, and it may even be needed to meet new legal requirements, for example. However, no matter how clear cut it appears to be the same change control needs to be carried out each time to make sure that everything is properly controlled the whole time.

You Don’t Want to Change the Solution

Of course, there are sure to be times when a bit of flexibility will be needed. You might already have come up with a solution which you are happy with but what if the stakeholders decide later on that they want some changes to it? You could try and be stubborn and stick to what you have already planned to deliver. However, it might be better to see things from their point of view and try to find a compromise between the two approaches. Again, a strict change control approach will be necessary and you will want to be sure that what you are now being asked to deliver isn’t going to have a substantial effect on the timescales or budget which have already been agreed. When you have worked out what you are going to do and are asked to change it then your initial reaction might be to say no. However, this is one case in which it could be a great idea to go with the flow and give the stakeholders what they really want. Unless you know that it is impossible or that it is a poorer solution to the original one then it could be a chance to strengthen your relationship with the stakeholders.