Want to know what it takes to derive real value from your next project and make it one of your company’s most successful endeavors? Get the insight you need about how to manage projects with these seven helpful tips from project managers who have made it happen.
Be consistent in terms of the players you’ll require from end to end. If you are missing key people, there will be gaps. For instance, your product may work well but the initiative will flag if the documentation or support isn’t there. Groups that are sometimes overlooked? Customer experience and external (analyst and press) teams.
Your stakeholders must understand—via quantitative measures—what you want to accomplish and how their resources will be impacted.
You’ll need to get commitment upfront as you don’t want the VP of Marketing backing out midway through the project because he doesn’t have the staff to support it. In addition to the head or VP of each department, you’ll also want buy-in from the CEO, the President, or at least the General Manager if your organization is large.
If you have trouble getting their attention, be persistent. Become friends with their admins and maybe talk it out over dinner. Once you’re in front of them, make your case with numbers. So when they ask, “Why is this project critical to the bottom line?” You’ve got the answer.
Aligning with top leadership is only part of the equation. If you are regularly managing projects, you will eventually be working with everyone in your organization. Therefore, it’s important to get into the mindset of breaking bread with everyone.
One of the best ways to cultivate allies is to help people with things that are important to them. If people learn that your projects have their interests in mind they will be more open to collaborating with you.
Select leaders from various departments who speak and act in a way that influences others. Ideally, these people have worked together before, so that 1+1 = 3.
Once you receive approval from the powers that be, convene your team for the all-important first meeting to establish the members as your arms and legs. Clearly define their roles and responsibilities and iron out gaps and questions.
In this and all subsequent meetings, stick to a pre-planned agenda and don’t allow the group to get off track. Make sure your members understand that they must cascade project information down to their teams in addition to reporting back to you on status.
Schedule an all-hands meeting with your chief sponsors and their people. An informal catered “lunch and learn” is often a good way, and convenient time, to encourage attendance.
Establish an open dialogue, creating a safe environment for people to ask questions, raise objections, and talk about what the project means to them. Preview the purpose, structure and operations of the project so that everyone hears the same messages at the same time.
Leave your door open to future inquiry, and follow your kickoff with a mass communication signed by your chief sponsors that again ties the project to company vision.
Project managers must have a good handle on the larger vision and a clear understanding of where all functions plug into the whole. But when it comes to informing your chief sponsors or steering committee, don’t speak on behalf of your reps from other areas. Letting them speak for themselves helps them clarify their thoughts and ensures their accountability for results.
Take advantage of communication mechanisms that exist in the organization already, and piggyback your project messages. Leverage highly visual demos (recorded for those who can’t attend live), newsletters, and emails to explain how you’re doing, where you’re going, the problems you’re facing, and when the project will be complete. Link to more detailed resources and include your personal contact information.
Throughout the development process your entire organization should be hearing from you on a regular basis.
Do you have any tried and true methods to ensure the success of your projects?