Good vendors, and the Other kind

We’re currently working with two different vendors on two different projects. We had a decently thorough vetting process before starting. Both vendors came recommended. 

The Good vendor is very good; this is actually our fourth project working together and the previous have been delivered on time and on budget. Partnering with this team has also been particularly valuable as they’re smart and don’t nickel-and-dime on shared insight and ideas.  They work on-site as well as remotely and understand well the value of a good status report. 

The project with the other vendor kicked off November of last year. Although we’re familiar internally with the platform we’re rolling out with them well, we brought in the vendor because we had budget to do so and had higher internal priorities elsewhere.  The object was to frame the project, detail it in tandem,  then allow this vendor to make additional recommendations and execute to plan. 

The dragging-on is not due to scope creep and there have been zero cost overruns; it’s been purely a matter of communication and time-management almost wholly on this vendor’s part: they don’t answer phone calls or emails in anything less than several days; they have been consistently lax in providing status reports, updates, and even invoices in anywhere near a timely fashion; they have been less than communicative regarding team changes and other engagements – professional or personal – that have directly impacted our project. The elapsed-time estimate was ~six weeks. 

They’re a small shop and I understand the challenges managing that. Based on the new relationship and relative priority of the project here, even time overruns of several weeks could be acceptable; we’re now in month seven.

It’s clear we need to end this project. We still have documented requirements to satisfy for which I am responsible. I’ve already let the software vendor know of my disappointment in their recommended implementor.

How would you handle this situation as a whole? 

With so much good project management info available, why are most projects so poorly managed?

There’s plenty of excellent, freely-available info regarding successfully managing projects. Even without diving deeply into methodologies, the PMI or Six Sigma, there are several quick reads to solidify what’s first and foremost common sense. 

Radical Transparency” is, among other things, a successful project management methodology. A precursor to it is a simple, “three-phase” approach:

  1. Tell them what you plan to Do
  2. Do it
  3. Tell them what you’ve Done
Yes – it’s the same as making a good presentation. It’s so simple and goes so far toward success, yet still people charged with running projects avoid doing it. 
Update from Cliff Hall – a colleague from Prodigy and About.com – pointing us to a  “One Minute Risk Assesment” tool. Can we swing even one minute?