I’m undergoing one of my periodical head-shaking, eye-rolling episodes at work. There’s been a whopping big project underway which up to now I’ve had no direct involvement in. I’ve looked on and listened in to the gossip and wondered how in the world they expected to get it over the line. There are two (pseudo) project managers but no project plan. From my knowledge of the business there were aspects it seemed were entirely overlooked, which when I mentioned it those involved sent them scurrying away wondering if they should do something about.

It’s shambolic and disorganised, but that’s what happens when it’s not properly scoped and the requirements not properly analysed. And without a project plan (how can you have a project without a project plan?) there are bound to be things that are missed, slip through the cracks, and/or are either delivered late or not at all. And of course, without a proper project plan none of the dependencies are mapped – and that’s a whole untidy mess when that’s overlooked.

The saving grace has been that until I’ve been no more than a bemused onlooker. Now I’ve been dragged into it.

To be fair I should have been involved a month or two ago. A key component of the project is customer comms. A big part of that is web chat. As somebody who successfully implemented and managed a web chat client in the business, and the nearest thing to an expert on it, you’d have thought I’ve be called upon much earlier to lend my expertise and map out the pathway ahead.

That never happened and while it’s easy to suggest it was just another thing overlooked until the last minute, I have a sneaking suspicion that my manager kept me away from it. She took it upon herself to be the web chat expert, as if she had absorbed the necessary knowledge by osmosis. In the one meeting I belatedly attended I discovered she was saying things that were just not correct. When a question was asked about it I would open my mouth to answer only to find she had got in ahead of me. I would listen, once more bemused, before piping up to correct her: “Actually…”

In any case the damage was done. And now, a little over a week from go live, I’ve been dragged in and told to do ‘whatever’ I have to do to get it over the line. There’s no briefing, no requirements doc, no process description, no detail, no detail on what’s in and what’s out. I’ve got to organise the training for about 15 people across three groups, have to update and create scripts, have to organise all the administrative aspects – users etc – as well as create the reports.

When I delve into it and ask how this works one person gives me one answer, and somebody else the exact opposite. Because nothing is documented there is no definitive answer. Doing my due diligence to make sure the actual sites are correct and pending I discovered they were using the wrong codes and there was confusion about go-live dates. Purely by necessity I’ve found myself project managing a component I have no real responsibility for, but which has a direct bearing on what I have to do – and indeed, the success of the whole project.

To say I’m exasperated is an understatement. I confess to being a control freak, but that’s no bad thing in my situation. I like to know why I’m doing something and how it fits into the larger picture. Quite naturally there will be questions arising from that, and they should be asked – the problem is getting answers.

I’ll get this done, but it will take a lot more elbow grease than the initial project promised. I need to straighten it up and drag it over the line. I can’t speak for the project as a whole, but I can say that my small part of it will be precise.

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