Whatever the scenario – if you aren't feeling creative or if you have only worked with one organization and are used to doing things just one way, being creative and coming up with a few options to add value as a PM to your projects may be difficult since you've always done things one way. That said, let me offer these tips on ways you can potentially add some value to your project engagements in your role as the project manager in charge...
Improved project status reports. Sometimes with the project status reporting process and output we are going through the motions producing the same report on every project. Not because it meets the specific needs and requests of the customer or the differences in this project from the last one you managed but because it's what we've always done in this organization without any thought to filling a void or any ounce of creativity or value added work and information. Consider doing something more substantial – a nice dashboard report with red-yellow-green status lights at a high-level for each key element for those stakeholders who want the quick glance. Then go into the detail on project health items – schedule, budget, resource planning, issues, change orders, risks, etc. And don't try to create a different status report for every interest group – make it a one size fits all and then you know that everyone always has the same information no matter what they may claim.
Share the financials. Go ahead and keep the project customer advised of the project financials on a weekly basis. Make it part of the status report in dashboard format, detailed format, or - more preferably – both. If I had done that (against my PMO director's better ? judgement on a couple of huge government contracts) then they probably wouldn't have ended in failure and cancellation. Be accountable and show accountability – don't hide the budget status from your project client. In many cases, if they aren't seeing it then they are assuming the worst.
Complete transparency. Be transparent. We are in the age of real time communication, news and information sharing no so there is no reason not to be completely transparent. Your stakeholders all need the latest information and keeping news and information from the project client is always a bad idea. Being transparent means that when a decision is needed from a stakeholder or client or participation in a meeting or just participation in a major decision you will be able to count on that individual having access to the the latest status and info and ready to provide what you need.
Focus on cybersecurity. I think that it's a given that most project managers can say we don't pay enough attention to risk management, avoidance, tracking and mitigation. Cybersecurity has grown into a necessary and ongoing concern. Cybercrime causes over $600 billion in damage annually so any project with any kind of data sensitivity needs a cybersecurity element which means that the CSO (Chief Security Officer or one of his staff) needs to be at least a peripheral part of every IT project. That also means that you really need a CSO or someone training to be in that role. Your project customer will definitely appreciate the addition of that critical team member. Value added... win-win.
Conduct lessons learned during the project. Lessons learned are important. We don't all do them and those that do likely don't do them all the time. There can be several excuses why...
- The project team members are off to another project after the current project is over so they are hard to gather back together for this event
- The project customer is busy with the handoff of the solution and post-implementation activities and isn't interested in the post-mortem review you're proposing
- The project went poorly so you're not pushing the lessons learned session very hard
- The project went so smoothly that you don't think it's necessary
All these are excuses and they are bad excuses – especially the last two – because a lessons learned session can be a very valuable learning experience. Now, what if you could take that valuable learning experience and apply it to the current project and improve on your project performance right now with this current customer rather on the next project with some other client. That would be great – and you can. Schedule several lessons learned sessions throughout the project. My best method is to schedule them to coincide with major milestones or key deliverable dates. It's also been beneficial for the current project and it's a great confidence booster with the current project customer.
Make your meetings the best. Hold awesome meetings. Don't just schedule meetings, carefully plan them out. Have notes, agenda, planned assignments and informational needs documented and sent out to attendees prior to the meeting. That way individuals will come prepared to share and contribute and be 100% accountable for the info they are responsible for. Attendance and participation will rise. And stay on schedule and end on time. Your reputation as a great meeting facilitator and not a time waster will rise fast. Also, follow up with notes post-meeting and ask for feedback within 24 hours to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Summary / call for input
I've got a few more, but this is a good start. Using these six concepts, the project manager can improve the vendor <==> client relationship as well as project delivery and performance... adding real value to the current project.
Thoughts? What else would you add to this list? Please share and discuss.