~ By Brad Egeland
In Part 1 of this two part series I began discussing the idea of gold plating project management on an engagement. I am making a case for it as a good thing - as directly opposed to the negative concept of gold plating on the development side when you can often end up with budget and timeline issues as developers perform extra work on the project that is outside the priced scope of the initiative.
In Part 1, we discussed following up all key customer status calls with notes to ensure common understanding and periodically bringing someone from the organisation's executive management team to your customer status calls to increase the client's feeling of importance. In this Part 2, I'll examine three more of my list of five ways to show extra value in the PM role on the projects you manage.
Anything that can be done to make it easier for the customer to see - at a glance - that their project is healthy is a good thing. It makes it easier for them to see every week and it will keep them happy and keep them from asking you too many detailed questions about issues, budget, risks, change orders, etc. Figure out a good way - using green, yellow, and red colours - to show the status of project phases, key tasks, budget health, resource allocation, and issues status - at a minimum and that will be the first thing your customer looks for every week. Plus, it will be a great high-level project view to give to your executive team every week as a quick status update. You'll develop a nice reputation out of it and probably set a standard for high level reporting in the organisation that the executives insist be incorporated company wide. Win - win - win.
I'm not talking about a lot of assistance. It would be a definite conflict of interest for the project manager or anyone on the delivery team to provide too much assistance to the customer for User Acceptance Testing (UAT). But project clients are notoriously bad at testing and test preparation and nearly always ask for assistance. It's easy to provide them with some generic test cases or test scenarios and to give away a few hours of some tech lead time to help them get started on the right path to a successful UAT experience.
Always be looking for new business possibilities. The benefit of this value-added leadership can be felt on both sides…the delivery organisation may realise additional revenue from it and the customer may gain new functionality or be shown new processes or systems to implement that will help grow or strengthen their organisation.
The project manager who sees a potential for new business or that some work could be offered that would be beneficial to all has to walk a fine line between innovator and greedy revenue seeker, of course. Unless it's an obvious need or issue that has created a viable situation for a change order, then the project manager must act professionally and somewhat discreetly because while he's trying to reel in new business and revenue, he still is being paid for a current job with real tasks before him. And you definitely want the customer to perceive this as you looking out for their needs and potential for business growth. And, ultimately, that is half of the equation anyway.
And here's one bonus concept. Always try to include a separate weekly call with the project sponsor. If you're not conducting frequent communication with the sponsor they can begin to feel less important or start to have less confidence in the job your team is doing for them. Don't wait for the weekly call to roll around. Reach out to them once a week - separate from the formal call - as sort of a customer health check…you just don't need to tell them that's what you're doing.