Your contract deliverables WILL change - be prepared
Posted on 27 January 2016
You've returned to your well-established project after an overdue break only to find that things have changed dramatically while you were away drinking Mai Tais by the poolside in Denarau.
Not only has your Project Sponsor left the company, you now have a brand spanking new Project Manager who is completely revisiting the project scope and deliverables. You have a feeling that as a result of these changes you may become surplus to requirements and be out searching for a new contract a lot sooner than expected.
This is not as rare an event as some may think. It is only week three in the new calendar year and I have already hosted four queries from concerned contractors. All four individuals have found that things have changed significantly on the contracts they were engaged on - in one case so significantly that the contractor has been given notice.
Similarly, to permanent gigs - where both internal and external business environmental factors can lead to changes in role deliverables, contract engagements can change as well and sometimes at quite short notice. Changes emerge and evolve from many quarters and may be as a result of:
- Organisation re-prioritisation of investment rationale for the project deliverables
- New strategic direction due to possible merger with or acquisition of a new business
- Organisation restructure that introduces new senior executives who de-prioritise projects in order to refocus
- Financial year end results may call out the need for fiscal austerity - hence shelving some strategic initiatives
It is incumbent on all of us to be fully cognisant of the business and economic environments within which we operate, especially as these continually change.
Here are some simple actions you can take as a contractor to ensure you always remain one step ahead:
- Be very clear with your manager on what is expected of you
At the time of onboarding and being assigned to a project (refer to Contractor Blog for effective onboarding details), ensure that you have documented and signed off with the Project Manager (or Project Sponsor) the deliverables you will be accountable for during the project. This will establish your baseline deliverable.
- Always re-validate your deliverables when key project stakeholders change
Ensure that if any key project governance personnel (such as the Project Sponsor or the Project Manager) change, you reach out to the new person and validate your previously agreed deliverables. If there are any changes, detail these and ensure appropriate project change controls are enacted to re-validate any agreed changes.
- Keep an eye out for organisation-wide changes that will impact your deliverables
Similarly, if organisation-level changes emerge (such as mergers or acquisitions), it is prudent to ensure that you proactively ascertain any impacts on the project(s) you are engaged with. This may be in the form of an informal chat with your Project Manager or raising a formal project risk if you are not getting appropriate responses.
- Discuss your continued requirement before you go on long breaks
If you are planning time-off mid-project or taking a longer break during the holiday period, proactively discuss your continued engagement on the project upon your return before you go on such breaks. Do not assume that your deliverables will continue to be required for the reasons previously detailed above.
If you take the simple actions outlined above, these will ensure that you are ahead of the game and you will not be surprised by changes. Notwithstanding this, always ensure that you continually deliver professional high quality outcomes and refrain from engaging in office politics - these, above any other matters, will set you apart from others when it comes to ensuring continuity. We would like to hear your views and suggestions and especially if you are having such issues on your current contracts.