The customers on the projects we run come to us or our organization with project needs in hand and money to spend. They’re looking for a solution – yes – but they are also looking for effective leaders to run those projects that lead to those solutions. Some see the value in the project manager from the start and others have to be cajoled a bit – wondering why they have to pay top dollar for a project resource that they don’t see as really contributing hands-on to the final solution.
Of course, we know the real behind the scenes truth of the importance of the project manager role, but we still must make that apparent to the project customer who’s paying all the money for the engagement. We must understand and effectively meet the expectations that the customer has of the project management role to show PM value and keep that customer focused, engaged, and satisfied throughout the project.
That said, here are some key expectations that our project customers have of us in the role of project leader on their important project engagements…
Manage the project schedule effectively
The project client expects that their assigned project manager knows how to use the right project scheduling tool to manage the project, assign tasks and stay on top of resources. The project schedule is the basis for just about everything the project manager does on the project and should literally run the weekly project status meeting. It’s critical that the project manager knows how to make this all happen.
Manage the project well
Customers expect the project managers overseeing their projects are proven leaders – take-charge individuals who can make good, timely, and important decisions with authority and act on them. Time is money and key decisions must be made and acted upon on projects. Sometimes this must be done very quickly without the constraints of always running every issue up the chain of command for feedback and a decision.
Think and be creative
Project managers who are looking for both conventional and unconventional ways to get things done for their customers – as long as they are still aligned with the goals of the company and the project – are increasing their chances of success for their projects and their customers. Project managers striving for excellence must occasionally step outside of their comfort zone to get things accomplished.
Communicate effectively and efficiently
The project manager must be a confident communicator and must be connected within the organization. The well-connected project manager can break down barriers and get critical tasks done for his projects that others cannot. Customers want and need a project manager who is ready to lead and make things happen and can communicate effectively and efficiently with everyone on both sides of the project and work well with all levels within his own organization for the success of the projects he manages.
Be accountable for the project – good and bad
The excellent project manager has the target on his head for the entire success of the project. The project client expects this and the project manager needs to be ready to handle that level of responsibility and expectation. He approaches everything about the project this way, accepts responsibility for decisions, deliverables, successes, failures, and the communication that must happen in order to make the project successful.
The project manager is the go to person on the project and there are always high expectations of him and the entire project team. The project manager should be ready to take on these expectations and not shift responsibilities and blames to others involved in the project. Our project customers should see high value in the experienced and usually expensive project management resources they are paying for and it’s critical that they get what they are paying for at the end of the day.