We do a lot of ‘formal’ things on the projects we manage. Hopefully, if we’re good project managers following a reliable ‘process’, then we hold meetings, deliver status reports, track issues and risks, forecast resources and costs and have a detailed project plan up-to-date every week if not every day.
We can formally project manage our butts off and still not have a successful project. Sometimes there’s nothing that can be done about that. Things go wrong, technology fails us, team members let the project down, executive management cans a project, or even the customer changes their direction and it just doesn’t meet their needs anymore.
However, there are times when things that make a project unsuccessful are very much within our control. If we’re not managing the project well, that can be one of those instances in our control. But I’m writing this with assumption that we are doing the right ‘formal’ things on the project as stated in the first paragraph above. What I’m talking about here is the little things. The things that make or break customer satisfaction, team satisfaction, and even CEO satisfaction and help ensure our project’s success – or kill it.
The Extra Effort
Some of the things we can do – the more intrinsic things on a project that keep people happy, involved and focused are:
- Frequent communication with the customer well beyond the required weekly formal calls and reporting
- Understanding customer concerns and offering expert advice and possibly additional skilled project resources to address questions and concerns
- Frequent adhoc discussions with our delivery team as a whole to keep everyone focused and engaged and make sure where all aware of the key tasks and assignments at any given time
- Frequent adhoc discussions individually with our delivery team members to dive into any project, professional or even personal concerns or frustrations they are encountering (don’t let anything build up – it’s never a good thing)
- Especially for very visible, large projects – frequent communication with and updates to executive management
- Invite the CEO or other executive management to sit in on a weekly customer status call – it will inform them, make the customer know just how important they are, and let your team know how valuable this project is and how important they are to it’s success
There’s more we can do, I’m sure. The key thing to take away from this is that just following formal processes is not always enough. It usually isn’t enough – especially on larger and longer engagements where team members can stray, become exhausted or unfocused, feel unappreciated, or the customer can feel like they are being taken for granted. You’re the Project Manager – keeping everyone engaged and satisfied is not easy, but it’s your responsibility and ultimately increases your chances for success.
I originally penned this article for the PM Tips website - the original post appears here.