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I work in a chemical company in R&D department and participate in a project developing a new application for us as a subject matter expert, the project is led by IT.

There will be a face to face meeting on 3rd of January, there will be around 15 participants:

  • from IT: program manager (Bill), project manager, architects and analysts.
  • From R&D: reasonably big boss (3 levels above me), business change managers and experts.

Bill sent draft agenda to the participants last Wednesday (12th Dec), the same day I've answered we need some background materials before the meeting (by the 19th, as people will be on holiday around Christmas there are 1-3 workdays from 19th to the meeting) in order to arrive prepared and be able to contribute to the meeting.

No answer arrived so far and there is a chance it'll not arrive at all. Unfortunately it's common in this team.

If no response, then on the 20th I'll try to call Bill (we're in different countries so meeting is not an option). What shall I tell him? "Hey, you forgot to answer me! "? "Without that information it doesn't make sense for me to join the meeting."??
What if I can't reach him / won't get what I need?

I've two problems in this situation:

  • no communication: I keep asking without answer, there are people who just don't bother sending replies and there is no alternative source of information.
  • no information: I just don't have the right information for giving correct feedback on the project. I keep asking for it since several months ago (since I'm in the team) without success (means I still don't have it; however I'm already known as the challenging guy).

The project is in a bad shape, now around two years of delay; now it's accepted that part of the delay was caused by poor communication.

What should be my next step?

  • writing an answer to my previous mail to everybody complaining about lack of communication and information?
  • just writing the mail to the participants from R&D asking to help me escalating the issue?
  • something else?...

Reflecting to questions in answers:

Is no one in management willing to address it? To own it?

In R&D management is fully supporting me and chase IT when I ask, but finally it's me who should communicate. IT always promise to improve but we experience very few changes.

can anything realistically be done to change the situation

It's a program we will use during our work and not something we'll sell, overall budget is still quite small compared to company's whole budget and things are progressing even if very slowly.
So question is not whether the project will fail and cause the company to bankrupt, but whether we spend five times more money and time developing it.
Coming back to the comment, I don't know what could be done to change, that's why I'm asking here.

(Ok, I suppose firing top 3 managers from the project and put better people there would change a lot, but that's absolutely not my decision, and also something people can't express publicly in our company).

Do you really want to stay there?

What else could I do?

  • asking my line manager to remove me from the project? That would be good in short term, however without an expert from my department (nobody would like to replace me) we would just get a useless tool.
  • look for another job? It's still just a tool, not my whole job, I don't think I should change job just because of this.
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At time of writing, the 19th is tomorrow, so they're not late with the information yet.

If you're concerned that you won't get a response, then send a chase-up email asking whether how things are going.

Hi Bob, I'm writing about this meeting in the New Year. Will there any problem in getting the information to me by tomorrow as I need a few days to collate and prepare. Let me know if you need any help.

I know that you probably can't help in him getting the information together, but it's a passive way of chasing someone up.

If there's no response, then chase up again and point out that the meeting may have to be delayed. And since sponsors are involved, that's not a great thing.

  • Thanks, yes, keeping asking never hurts. I've asked it already as from 21st I'll be on holiday, so asking this question on the 20th I feel would be too late. – CuriousWorker Dec 18 '18 at 8:30
  • @CuriousWorker Consider adding Bill/Bob boss, and your boss (if it is not the same) so there is evidence you needed that before certain date to be ready for the meeting – llrs Dec 18 '18 at 11:02
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    @llrs: boss of my boss's boss is already in the conversation. I don't know who is Bob's boss. – CuriousWorker Dec 18 '18 at 11:51
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now it's accepted that part of the delay was caused by poor communication

Oh well, the first step is admitting that you have a problem.

Is no one in management willing to address it? To own it?

Btw, do you use Action Items? Or some form of ticketing system (JIRA, Bugzilla, etc)

A proper project manager will realize that most activities require input from other activities and cannot begin until that input is available. In this case, the program manager (Bill) has to accept that the background materials are input to the meeting and that without them the meeting should not take place.

The whole thing smacks of bad project management to me; top that off with a distributed team and no repercussions for missed deliverables and you have a recipe for disaster.

Ask yourself 1) can anything realistically be done to change the situation and 2) do you really want to stay there?

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    Thanks for the answer! I'll address your points in my question as it would be too long for a comment – CuriousWorker Dec 18 '18 at 8:37

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