As project managers, we have many responsibilities and much accountability. In other words, there are a lot of things expected of us and those expectations come from different levels of the organization, from our project team members, and from the customer. They say you can please all of the people some of the time, and you can please some of the people all of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time. I would have to say that the role of project manager is probably as close as you’ll ever get to having someone expect you to actually please all of the people all of the time. I’m not whining, it’s just fact.
So how do we do that? Well, of course, in reality we can’t. But we have to keep trying. And in our fervent efforts to do so we need to stay focused on the end goals of the project and the overall satisfaction of our project customer. We need to continually assess… “Am I doing the right things at the right time?” Am I meeting the needs of the project? Am I meeting the needs of my organization? What about my team…am I doing the right things for them and making sure they are still focused on the end goals of the project and the tasks they are supposed to be completing? Am I managing all things properly and to the best of my ability?
For me, I do my best to stay on the track of doing the right things at the right time by staying focused on these three project areas:
Information flow. Is the right information being disseminated regularly to the key project stakeholders? As long as weekly status meetings are happening with the customer and project team, and as long as there is an updated project status report and project schedule driving the key project discussions and meetings then at least the most critical project information is getting out to those who need it on a consistent basis. The proper flow of key project information is happening and everyone has a chance to be on the same page at the same time.
Customer satisfaction. Is the customer happy with how the project is being run and are they getting their promised deliverables on time and with the quality that they expect? The PM should periodically reach out to the project client to gauge satisfaction. Do this customer health check and take corrective action if there are any issues with customer satisfaction.
Project scope. Is the project scope being monitored? Left unchecked the project budget and timeline can be greatly affected by work performed outside of the documented scope of the project. The PM has to stay on top of scope and promptly create change orders for any work that isn’t covered by the initial requirements of the engagement.
The bottom line for me is that if I’m staying focused on these three areas and they seem to be running smoothly and keeping the project on track then I must at least be doing most of the right things at the right time. Perfection isn’t going to happen and there will always be issues, but if these three areas are telling me the project is healthy, then I’m fairly confident I’m handling the project and customer properly.