Managing the project team and maintaining strong communication with the project customer can consume most of the PM’s time that is allocated to the project. Needless to say, there are a lot of tasks and much effort that goes into what sounds like a fairly simple activity. Well….it’s not – I have 9 kids and I can tell you that managing a project team and keeping the project customer happy and focused is harder than keeping 9 kids managed and focused. I’m not complaining - both are rewarding in very different ways….
So, we – as project managers – must manage all these different skills sets and, of course, egos. While doing that, we must also ensure that we’re doing everything possible for our project customer and keeping their confidence and satisfaction level high. Remember – our approval rating with the project customer is still one of the three key determiners of project success…so don’t take that part of the responsibility lightly.
Stick with basic best practices
We must do weekly status calls with our customer and we should always provide our customer and team with revised weekly project schedules and up-to-date status reports – both of which are great tools to use to drive the weekly status call or meeting with the customer. To that end, I always plan an internal call or meeting with my team one or two days prior to the weekly call with the customer so I can ensure that everything is up to date. If I’m working with a collaborative PM tool, that means my team must be in there in advance make sure their tasks and info are up to date as well.
Who will you collaborate with?
Now consider this…in a collaborative project environment who all should be involved in those collaborative activities? The project sponsor? Yes, probably – especially if they are hands on and want that type of access. Some don’t, but when they do it’s more of a help than a hindrance, in my opinion. What about other external entities? Which external entities need access to the platform to view, update and close tasks? Which additional project resources outside of your immediate team and possibly the project sponsor should have access to make changes to their tasks in the project schedule and the issues that have been assigned to them in the issue management tool? That’s can be a tougher call because it can really open the project manager up to more effort, more tracking, more oversight, and more babysitting depending on how reliable these external project entities are and how accountable they are to maintaining useful information in the online tool. If most are updating their own tasks and two people are constantly slacking, then you may rely on their updates only to find that you walking into a status meeting with only 80% accurate information.
When you are considering opening the collaborative issue and project tracking platform up to the entire team – meaning all resources and stakeholders beyond just your immediate delivery project team – education will definitely be in order. Kickoff the project by setting expectations for all involved as to how you will manage the project and how you expect information to flow from them into the tool and to you. It’s very important that you make them own their own tasks and drive home the concept that without their accurate weekly updates, your project information will not be accurate and the project and customer may suffer as a result.
For issue management and project tracking on your ongoing engagements, check out Gemini. Gemini is extremely flexible as a collaborative project tracking and issue-tracking tool and gives the project manager and team a full-featured dashboard for great oversight into ongoing project and issue status.