Many times we find ourselves running the project methodically because we’re busy, we have lots of projects on our plate and things are going fairly well. Kind of like the saying, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” But when we do that, we tend to miss doing the things that we do that can be adding value to the project, helping the project team, and helping to ensure the highest degree of satisfaction to our project client.
If you find that you’re not leading your teams well…they don’t seem to be taking direction and following your leadership, or if you are not experiencing the level of project success that you had hoped for, or if customers never seem quite as satisfied with your project efforts as you would like, then maybe it’s you and not them. And maybe it’s time to ask yourself, “Am I doing the right things right?”
I realize that sounds like a confusing question so let’s look at it this way…am I going through the motions with my project tasks or am I embracing the big picture? Am I doling out information or am I turning it into useful, decision-making tools for myself, my team, and my customer? Do I toss status over the wall to the client, or am I trying on an ongoing basis to gauge their needs and expectations and meet those needs and expectations heads-on?
PM added value for the customer
“I’m managing the project for my customer to the best of my abilities, but should I or could I be doing more to ensure success?” You plan out the financials and resources on the project. Are you managing them closely every week? Are you engaging the customer in that planning and reporting so that they understand and can play a role in managing the budget and timeline and resource progress? Some customers don’t want to play too much of a role, but they almost always want to be well informed. If you’re just going through the motions on these activities then you likely have some dissatisfied customers who are beginning to feel uncomfortable with your level of commitment to them and to their project’s success.
PM added value for the team and project
Likewise, are you adding value for the team and for the project as a whole? I guess the bottom line is, ask yourself if you’re adding value to the project, or just running it robotically. Are you equipping your team to own tasks, help manage the financials, identify risks, play a role in scope management, and present key information to the customer on an ongoing basis. These are key project team member skills that need to be learned and it likely needs to be you who helps them get to that point. This is especially true with the new hires and the maverick developers…the ones who haven’t yet learned the ‘team culture’ and aren’t yet in the ‘customer service’ mode – at least not with the customers your organization is serving. You must help them understand the team concept and how to play their own productive and cohesive role on that team.
PM added value for senior management
Finally, are you one of those invisible project managers when it comes to your senior management? Believe me, they want to know more about your project – even if it’s at a high-level. Your project’s success – especially if it’s a highly visible project – is relevant to their success. Keep them informed. If you’re not reporting vertically – and proactively – then you’re not doing enough. You’re not adding enough value to the organization. Don’t make them come ask you for the information – give it to them and force them to ask you about it. That’s how you stay relevant to senior management – that’s how remain accountable and how you ensure you’re not just going through the motions.
The bottom line is this: we always (I hope) try to manage our projects well. But there are often some things we can do, concepts we can embrace, and actions we can take that add value and help ensure success. Ask yourself: “Am I doing the right things for the project – and am I doing those right things right?”