In an earlier post I observed that in my experience one of the most problematic areas for project managers is the consistency of support from key resource suppliers.

This was forcibly pointed out to me again this week. My wife volunteered to organise the Christmas Fair at my son’s primary school. While I have always found the way that the mothers of the parish organise school events fascinating, I have wisely limited my contribution to carrying heavy objects from one place to another on the actual day.

Everything was going well until it snowed. At this point I should mention that I live in London, England. When I say “snow”, I mean 3″ not 3 ft and for one day not a month. However, as usual the entire city ground to a halt. In particular the school closed because teachers could not get to work.

At this point the school cancelled our fair. There was to my mind, no logical reason to cancel the fair because it did not depend on the presence of teachers.

The drivers that resourceholders have  change over the course of the project. In this case the school closure changed the motivation of the school. This shows the importance of getting a personal commitment from resourceholders and structuring the project so that if it fails they lose face.

Resourceholder engagement is a complex area and I think that proper consideration of it is essential for creating successful projects.