The Project Manager’s (PMs) job is to ensure the project team works in harmony and stays on track with the overall plan.
That said, there are situations that WILL arise which cause deviation from the plan. Often these deviations can be absorbed resulting in no impact to the project outcome (i.e., cost, timeframe or quality). However, this must be closely monitored so that if/when slippages occur that do pose risk to the project outcome prompt and effective communications take place.
The Powerhouse PM does not manage to “hopeful” outcomes. S/he manages to concrete dates and deliverables. As such, when those outcomes are in jeopardy a flare must go up to ensure the project stakeholders are aware. This, instead of waiting until the next scheduled project review meeting.
A great quote:
Unlike cheese and wine, bad news does NOT get better with age!
While the resulting conversations may not be pleasant (potentially, even painful) they MUST be had in a timely manner to avoid (or at least minimize) impact to the business. From there we can strategize with the team on the course of action and realign everyone to the revised plan.
It is so easy for a project to “quietly” get significantly off plan to the point where multiple days or weeks go by without the project stakeholders acknowledging the reality of the situation. A task slips here, another there. On an individual basis these slippages may seem harmless. However, they have a compounding effect. And, there will be a reckoning…
The Powerhouse PM continuously “connects the dots” in terms of how all the moving parts are inter-related and impact the project’s critical path. And, when there is significant risk of deviation from plan (or deviation has occurred) — They call it like it is!
That said, the Powerhouse PM must maintain a careful balance so as not to declare “the sky is falling” when we simply have a mere bump in the road.