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Why is it so hard to make a decision in business? Business requires that people make decisions, and every decision is a risk in some form or another, yet as we deal with business risk management, it seems that management has become more paralyzed by managing risk to such a point that decisions often go unmade.

Project managers dealing with this kind of problem often have to go to great lengths and burn work cycles just to get someone to commit either for or against a project or work.

Those unmade decisions often go unnoticed unless there is an adverse outcome because the decision was not made, or the prime time to move on the decision has come and gone because of organizational paralysis. Yet all unmade decisions often have an impact on the organization whether they are realized or not in the longer run. Project managers have to deal with the fall out of these kinds of problems, and many times they are unprepared to do so, as they were unaware that a problem existed.

People who work for a company often make decisions in microcosm to the position that they occupy. These kinds of decisions are usually not a problem as long as they are confined to a script, or within the ability of the position to make the decision.

However, many of the larger business decisions, like brining on a contractor, or committing to a new product, product updates, and otherwise many times reach a crisis or boiling point before they are made. Some times it is just a matter of budget, especially when looking at brining on new people, but when suppliers and otherwise have committed resources, funds, personnel and time to setting up a project/new hire/contractor the failure of the company to make a decision go or no go often can defeat a project or plan.

We staff based on what we think we will need, or on what we do need. We learn the budget game (request two or three times what we need and we might get what we really do need), we learn how to keep our budgets from being poached in mid year reviews, we make promises and we make alliances to keep projects going. Outside vendors are unaware of the internal conflicts, organizational behavior, and budget stressors, that may influence those outsource or contract positions.

When a vendor, business unit, or otherwise hears the word “go” and allocates, budgets, and gets contracts ready, organizational dysfunction on the part of the company ordering or procuring those resources causes a lot of problems. Many vendors are so used to the long cycle times, or the false starts that they allocate as minimal effort to staffing until it becomes real. Risk management on the part of the vendor with a dysfunctional client means that the client when they are ready to go, might find the vendor not able to commit to the level that the company may want.

Project Managers working with internal and external sources learn the behaviors of both in source and outsource companies so that they can manage time lines and manage risk to project in case either in our out source groups can not accommodate a rushed or hurried time line that could have been managed much better earlier in the time line. Vendors move resources based on need, and regardless of the client, the Vendor might have those resources allocated differently if the company who is ordering services can not make the decision in a timely manner.

The inability to make decisions on the part of a dysfunctional company damages the credibility and ability to do business with internal and external resources. The bane of any project manager is not having the resources when they are needed according to a negotiated time line because someone does not make the resources available, or can not commit those resources because people were idle and they moved on to other projects.

When making a decision to commit time, resources, budget, or otherwise, it is important that managers and decision makers in a company ensure that the resources they commit to a project are actually there when needed and as needed.


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Action or Inaction
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This entry was posted in Business.
About Dan Morrill
Dan Morrill runs Techwag, a site all about his views on social media, education, technology, and some of the more interesting things that happen on the internet. He works at CityU of Seattle as the Program Director for the Computer Science, Information Systems and Information Security educational programs. WebProNews Writer
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