The Blame Game: It’s Not Always the Project Manager’s Fault

The factors that can push a project toward failure are almost limitless. An unrealistic schedule, budget shortfalls, scope creep, even internal politics can wreak havoc on a project. Sorting out the root cause of the problem amid the wreckage of a failed project isn’t always easy, though, and oftentimes the finger of blame gets pointed at the most convenient scapegoat: the project manager. This article discusses how to find the true source of project failure. In doing so, it examines the role of the project manager, executive management and the project sponsor, noting that the latter two are responsible for ensuring that the project manager has the necessary resources, tools and policies to do the job. It then overviews two steps to take after a mistake or failure occurs. Next, the article lists four clear signals that a project manager may be letting things slip on a troubled project. It then examines a course of corrective action when the project manager is at fault. Finally, the article identifies a positive sign for a project manager’s future performance: the project manager voluntarily takes the blame for project failure.

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