In Part 1 of this two part series we started to examine the project sponsor and their role on the project and how they share responsibilities with the project manager. In this second part, we will examine key areas of effort that for the project manager that help ensure project sponsor satisfaction on the project and overall project success as a result.
How do you do it?
The next question that begs to be asked then is, how do you, as the project manager, help ensure project success by catering to the needs of the project sponsor (and his organization) and keeping that project sponsor satisfied and engaged on the project? You can’t always bring a project in on time or on budget. In fact, those are somewhat rare occurrences in many organizations. So how do you do it when success in those other determining factors isn’t obvious or frequent? In fact, can you completely fail in those other two and still satisfy the customer? Yes. Absolutely a yes. How?
I’ve always tried to put the customer first. Not all of my projects finish on time, that’s for sure. Not all finish on budget, though by continually monitoring the budget and managing scope – including the practical and timely issuance of change orders – most stay within about 10% of the project goal. But I try hard to focus on the customer and work with my team to meet their needs. And I primarily do this by sticking to best practices throughout the good and bad times of the engagement. I do this by (among other things)…
- Interfacing informally with the project customer/project sponsor
- Conducting regular formal meetings with both project teams
- Taking issues and suggested solutions to the customer as soon as possible
- Engaging the customer actively in issue resolution and task management
- Keeping the customer informed every step of the way
- Engaging the customer with my senior management to keep an open pipeline of information
- Acting on customer/project sponsor requests and concerns as quickly as possible – take them seriously
The bottom line, in my opinion is information and communication. You must keep your customer informed – of both the good and the bad on the project – and you must not take for granted that they fully understand the issues, risks, concerns, and current status of the project. Always strive to over-inform. As soon as you start to assume that they know exactly what is going on and you cease detailed communication and explanation – that is the exact point you begin to lose them, risk their full engagement on the project, and likely start to see a decline in customer satisfaction. Realize that they have their own work to do so it’s the project manager’s job to ensure they are up to speed. The more engaged they are, the more confident they are in you and your team’s ability to deliver on the project…and the result is definitely a more satisfied customer…a more satisfied project sponsor. Win.