June wondered, incredulous at the outrage caused by changing a few words in a single sentence. She had only updated a sentence in one of the high level requirements. It was a last-minute addition that she made just before she sent off the document for approval. She made the change to improve the document. She was not the project manager and did not feel that she had to run every word written by her team.
June had just sent the final version of her document to her team members last night, shortly before she headed home. It was already 10 o’clock in the morning, and June had already received negative feedback from half her team members. It wasn’t until Peter, her sponsor on the project, stopped by that June realized that her improvements might not have been so great.
“June, a part of me wants this charter. Peter stated. “But I can’t sign it with a clear mind because you and your team can’t deliver what you promised.”
June asked, “What do you mean?”
Peter described the problem for June:
“The draft we agreed on contained the following statement: The project team will answer questions from the business units regarding product enhancements and investigate any issues that may have been reported by the business units during the product rollout.
That was changed to read: The project team will answer any product-related questions and provide support to the business unit throughout the product rollout. Are you able to see the difference?
June stated that she felt that the updated sentence was more concise, and better expressed support for the product. Peter agreed that the updated sentence showed better support for the business unit. It actually expressed support that June’s team would never normally provide. June’s team was panicking because her updates put them in the product support role. As the business unit became more comfortable with the enhancements, the team provided support for the product.
June experienced an epiphany at that moment. She had altered the meaning and intent of the requirements in her attempt to stamp her mark on them. Her updates were so disappointing for her team. Peter would have signed the document and her team would have committed to providing services they could not or should not provide.
June thanked Peter profusely, and then went off to call her team to offer her apologies.
June was lucky to have a trustworthy and insightful sponsor. She knew that her team would be able to relax after learning that Peter had not signed that document. They would forgive her, even though they would continue to watch for any future writing errors. Perhaps most importantly, Jane learned from this incident to think carefully before making any changes to project documents. Her role as project manager wasn’t to change requirements. Her role as project manager was to help the team agree on the requirements and then facilitate the work necessary to fulfill them.