You know how things are when you begin a new relationship? Remember how it was when you and your wife or husband first met? Everything is exciting and new. Ok, that’s not exactly how a new project is, but you get the picture. When we start a new project, everything is fresh and new. No budget issues, no project timeline issues, no issues whatsoever! No one has complained…as far as you know requirements are in place and ready for work to start.
Is it Possible?
How do we keep that new car smell going longer? It always seems to dissipate so quickly. Everyone starts gung ho on the project. No issues or roadblocks, no customer complaints, and the relationship with the customer is never strained at this point. How can we keep everything cohesive and everyone fresh and focused intensely on project success?
The reality is we really can’t. We’re all getting our project resources from a matrix organization and therefore everyone has not only your project priorities, but priorities of their own from other projects and from their management. Customer issues will arise because requirements are never perfect and nearly every project has change orders (all should, but not all are caught or enforced….lots of ‘free’ work gets done or promised to the customer).
Keep Everyone Focused
As the Project Manager, it is our goal – and actually one of our key responsibilities – to keep the project team members focused on the prize. That prize, of course, is the end goal of a successful on time and on budget solution for the customer. How do we do that? To really be successful, we need to keep our focus on the following:
- Aligning our tasks with the goals and mission of the project
- Assigning resources with relevant and meaningful tasks
- Keeping resources interested and challenged (this is often a tough one)
- Keeping everyone well informed with status information (weekly status reports, status meetings, adhoc communications, etc.)
- Keep track of the budget
- Keep the project schedule revised, accurate and in front of everyone
The well-informed team will retain more focus on your project and the tasks you’ve assigned to them. Allow them no room for excuses – avoid the grey areas of who is responsible for what. Keep the customer on their toes and aware of what is expected of them. And keep them well informed of status so that they have no surprises. Fewer customer surprises mean fewer customer complaints and less chance of having a dissatisfied customer.
You can’t keep it fresh throughout the project. But knowing what causes things to stray like lack of focus, out of date information, unassigned tasks and lack of ownership and accountability will help you to steer clear of those issues by spending your efforts on performing the right PM tasks. Strong and confident leadership will help you get to the end goal.