Tuesday, July 8, 2008

If only I could work with my outside contracts the same way the NY DOT does

Anyone who's run a project with an outside vendor or freelance, contract worker, or third party application knows that it's best to plan alot of buffer into the schedule because anything that could go wrong, probably will. I've learned this the hard way a couple times, from communication breakdown, to technical difficulties, to technical difficulties caused by communication breakdown. It would be so much easier if everyone working on your project was working under the same roof, on the same schedules, with the same work style, etc.

But, if this were the case than project management wouldn't be so much fun!

We worked with an outside vendor on the west coast last year and the only way I was able to get them to respond to my email was to mark them high priorty with the red exclamations, and make sure all relavant parties were copied. Kindof annoying, I know...but it worked.

If only I could work with my outside contracts the same way that the street crew works with theirs...

So, its finally time for my street to get repaved. They've been putting up signs for the last week, letting us know when we can and can not park on the street. Yesterday they did the block west of me and this morning was time for my block. Now, the residents of my neighborhood who own cars and park them on my street are like outside 'contracters' who can have a direct impact the schedule & progress of the street paving project. At 7am this morning there were still a few cars parked on my block, so immediately the street paving project was delayed. Within a few minutes, we hear out the window, very loud announcements from a truck with a megaphone attached "Good Morning. Please remove your car from Chester Avenue. If you do not remove your car we will have your car towed and issue you a ticket."

What I love most is not the threat, but the way it was delivered. I happened to have been awake already because I have young kids who got me up at 5am, then again at 6:20am, but for those who have a bit more time to sleep in the morning, to be woken up by loud annoucements from the street is just beautiful. This reminds me of my camping days, when the evil counselors would yell at the kids or find some way to be really obnoxious to get them out of bed (of course I never did that as a counselor, I was very nice).

I looked out the window while the truck was going by, and saw a nice big smile on the driver's face. You know he was just loving this job, I bet he was once one of those evil camp counselors. If only I could use these same tactics to keep my outside vendors on schedule and communicating regularly. But, they probably wont ever want to work with me again...

(ps - this is not to say all outside contracts are bad, I happen to be working with one now who is totally on schedule and even more ahead of the game than the rest of us are...maybe he'd like to use the megaphone on us!)

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