What is Project Tracking Gone Bad?

The Middle Ages were rough. Torture was considered a legitimate way to extract information from a person that the court thought was guilty or was holding something back.

We’ve all seen movies and pictures of The Rack where a suspected criminal or withholder of information was chained near the hands and feet and then spread over a horizontal platform. The chains were pulled in opposite directions from each other while tremendous pressure was exerted on the person’s limbs causing great agony, pain, and many times death.

Fortunately, that’s something that is no longer a popular thing to do. However, for project managers, there is something even more devilish than The Rack. It’s called The Chron.

Those who know what the Chron is just let out an audible gasp of horror. There is nothing worse than hearing the phrase “we need to pull a Chron for this project”.

Let the reader beware. You can move forward at your own risk if you have never heard of The Chron. What you are about to read is true. Nothing has been made up. You may want to avert the eyes of any young children in your midst if you have decided to move forward despite these warnings.

What is Project Tracking Gone Bad?

What is Project Tracking Gone Bad?

What is Project Tracking with The Chron?

The answer to what is project tracking with the Chron is simple. It is project tracking on steroids. It is the epitome of who said what, when they said it, and how can this be proven.

It is, unfortunately, an activity that rears its ugly head when a project, relationship, or other activity has gone terribly wrong and finger pointing and blame-storming are the current standard operating procedure.

Pulling The Chron together many times falls on the lap of the project manager. The project manager is the person that can see both the trees and the forest. They have been keeping up with the minute details of the project and then assembling these pieces together to form the big picture.

This vantage point allows the project manager who is concerned with what is project tracking to assemble this record of events.

Who knows what the Chron stands for…maybe it’s Chronicle of Events, maybe it’s Chronological order of Events.

Regardless, The Chron is painful! It means taking time out of your already incredibly busy schedule to unearth and document every conversation, meeting, email, phone call, hallway chat and any and every form of communication that may have happened between the two parties that are at odds with each other. Plus, countless interviews with people who may have remembered the minutest details of events and decisions that were made perhaps years in the past.

We all know what project tracking is under normal circumstances. Project tracking with The Chron takes it to an all new high, or low, whichever way you would like to look at it.

Project tracking with The Chron is many times the precursor to the other project management torture device of going through depositions or having to testify in court if something has gone that terribly wrong.

How Do You Get to the Point of Needing to Use The Chron?

How do companies get to the point of needing to use The Chron since it’s such an infamous form of Project Management torture? It would seem reasonable that this is something most companies would take great lengths to stay away from.

Most companies do unless there has been a massive breakdown in communication or a misunderstanding of epic proportions.

Here’s an example…

Let’s say a small company does work for a huge company. The small company is one of many vendors that provide goods and services to the huge company. A typical project will run anywhere from 6 months to 1 year. The results of these projects are highly visible and many downstream applications, programs, and initiatives depend upon the successful completion of these projects on time. This an environment where the answer to what is project tracking is monitored by many stakeholders and executives.

It is discovered 3 months into the project that there is a HUGE piece of functionality missing. There was a big disconnect and the work that has been done for the past 3 months is all for naught! Disastrous! Even the best answer to what is project tracking will have a hard time pulling this one out this tailspin.

The early conversations begin. “Don’t you remember we decided to do it this way at our meeting 5 months ago?” the smaller company asks. “We never said that,” the larger company counters. “We would never agree to that since it’s not the way we do business” they continue.

“Yeah, but, we all sat in this room on this date and made this decision. Remember, it was raining outside and we talked about having to run through the parking lot to keep dry? I sat here, you sat there, and all these people were in attendance. Don’t you remember that meeting?” the smaller company desperately continues. “Nope,” says the big company.

There’s a storm beginning to brew. The smaller company goes back and desperately starts searching for emails that back them up. They have bits and pieces here and there but they can’t tie everything together. The need for The Chron has just surfaced. And guess who gets their hands and legs chained to this apparatus? The project manager!

Why Is The Chron So Tortuous?

Understanding what project tracking with The Chron is, and why is it so torturous can be summed up in two main areas.

  • First, it is an incredible, unbelievable and incomprehensible waste of time. You have enough to do as a project manager for the projects that you are currently managing. Not just enough to do…way more than enough to do.

    The time it takes to pull together emails, meetings requests, attendee acceptances, meeting minutes, and other pertinent information is staggering. Your other work doesn’t stop. It just gets backed up.

  • Second, you may find during this course of exploration that your company may have indeed missed this piece of functionality. Everyone makes mistakes and there are no guarantees that the answer to what is project tracking will put your firm on the right.

The Aftermath of The Chron

Let’s say your exercise in going down the path of what is project tracking put your company in a good position. It was clear that the decision was made by the huge company, and the small company was merely following directions.

The huge company will never truly believe this 100% and you will be stuck with a compromised relationship. Relationships between two companies, departments and people are based upon trust. Starting down the path of The Chron screams “I don’t trust you” as you have a 1” thick binder in front of their face and say “see, I told you so”.

Are there times you have to do this? Absolutely. The repercussions from such a miss if it’s not your company’s fault could be substantial. The business people at the other company should understand that and take their share of responsibility. You just have to understand that once you pull out The Chron, things will never be the same again.

Is There a Better Way than The Chron?

Now that we’ve answered the question about what is project tracking using The Chron, you may wonder if there is a better way. Yes. It’s called good old fashioned project management.

  • Stay on top of the details.
  • Keep up with the decisions that have been made.
  • Clearly document  decisions
  • Explore the ramifications that certain decisions will make
  • Communicate…

Make sure that everyone understands that if a particular path is chosen that it may not end up the way everyone thinks. This type of candor and open discussion early on will prevent much pain and suffering later.

Project tracking gone bad is when you have to resort to pulling out The Chron.  While The Chron is not nearly as bad as The Rack (it’s only half as bad), it’s a tremendous waste of time and leads to a permanently damaged relationship with whoever The Chron has been applied. Stick to common sense project management and you’ll never have to experience this type of pain!

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