~ By Brad Egeland
In Part 1 of this two-part series, I began my list of five areas to touch on to ensure you are delivering value to your project customers. We can all go through the motions, so to speak. But to go that extra mile, embrace best practices, add value and keep your customers coming back for more, you will need to be creative and dedicated. We have looked at the first two areas on my personal list of five best practices to use every project; let's look at the next three in this 2nd segment:
I have to admit that while I do this for every project, I don't do this for every consulting engagement. I probably should. I let the size of the engagement and the customer's wants and needs dictate how that goes – and with frequent contact via email, Skype and irregular phone calls, everything is usually well-covered on consulting gigs. But with projects, it's a different story. Keeping your customer happy and feeling in-the-loop is important to the success of your project. Ensuring that your team is on track and isn't missing anything is equally important. Always conduct regular weekly calls with your team and your customer. Always.
I've said this before, and I'll repeat it here: don't do the testing for them…and don't help them too much. Basically, help them be well-prepared for it. Help them with test planning and test cases, and be there to help when they run into issues (and they will). This testing is the last opportunity for your customer to make sure that the project deliverables meet expectations. When finished, the team should expect formal customer approval.
Finally, do a very thorough job with the project closeout. Don't just wing it when making sure everything is in proper order for deployment or rollout or implementation -- or whatever your proper terminology happens to be for handing off the final solution. Make sure all deliverables are done and signed off, all tasks are complete, all training is in place, all testing has been done, etc. A good checklist that is put together early on and revised as needed will do the trick.
The bottom line here is add value and show value. You are running important projects and need to show that they matter. You need to put the proper effort into making sure that things are done right. And you can do that by exerting more than the absolute minimum effort needed on the project. Look for ways to make your customer happy, to get your team fully involved and take ownership of tasks and deliverables, and to ensure that what you are supposed to deliver is what you are actually delivering. And by following these and other best practices, in the long run, you will actually make your job as project manager easier, not harder. Work smarter, not harder -- that's what my wife always tells me, and I try to listen to her most of the time. It's a healthy situation.
I welcome your input to the discussion. In what ways do you add value, and what things do you consider to be key areas to focus on when delivering on your customers' projects?