Projects and the Management of Change: Synchronizing for Success
Synchronizing for Success
"No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” H.E. Luccock
As a project manager, I often compared myself to a conductor for a large orchestra. “A large project and an orchestra each comprise many members, each playing a different role.” In both settings, the conductor and the project manager are responsible for what their teams produce - the project outcome, or the symphony. For either to be successful, everyone involved must share a similar vision and be committed to the intended outcome. For a project manager, this simply means keeping the team focused on the bigger picture while striving to complete the project successfully. Allow me to share a few insights and tips that will lead you to the successful completion of your next big project.
Managing Stakeholder Expectations
"Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form of what you’re expecting that is unless you have a plan." Haruki Marukami
Here are a few tips that will help you effectively manage stakeholder engagement:
Identify and Engage Stakeholders
From the beginning, you will want to identify the project stakeholders. Find out the level of engagement they’re expecting and what their specific areas of interest are e.g., a person from finance may be more concerned about the budget so they will want to be involved in discussions concerning the project’s budget. There may be others who are more concerned about risk, so they’ll want to be involved in any risk assessments or discussions related to risk management and risk mitigation. Understanding and documenting these details in a formal stakeholder engagement plan will set your project up for success early on.
Establish a Stakeholder Engagement Plan
Establish a meeting cadence early on. People want to know when they’ll be needed. To make sure you’re using everyone’s time wisely, set an agenda and deliver it at least 48 hours before the scheduled meeting. Assign roles to attendees to get them engaged and keep them involved. This promotes active participation and stakeholder buy-in. If stakeholders are disengaged chances are your project will soon be at risk.
Monitor Stakeholder Engagement
Establish frequent check-ins with stakeholders. Track attendance for calls and meeting this will you help identify changes in stakeholder participation. Declines in stakeholder engagement can be viewed as a need to reset and reengage. Declines in engagement can also be an opportunity for someone else to step in. Change is the one thing that’s consistent when it comes to managing projects, so it’s best to prepare for it in the beginning. There will be new stakeholders introduced to the project at varying times, so when this happens (because it will) have an action plan in place so you're able to bring them up to speed to help mitigate potential delays and bottlenecks in your project.
Spearheading Vendor Management
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.” Warren Buffet
It’s one thing to manage internal stakeholders but it’s another thing entirely when it comes to managing vendors. At the beginning of the project, you’re both seated at the table making sure you both protect your business. So how do you make sure that once the contract is signed that everyone keeps their end of the bargain?
Here are a few tips to help you effectively manage vendor relationships:
Share Information and Priorities
Be honest. If there are competing priorities in your organization and you can only commit to being available 20% of the time, let the vendor know. This allows them to allocate their resources according to plan. This is the beginning of a partnership and you want to be honest with your partners from the beginning. As soon as you identify potential obstacles or roadblocks, share that information with the vendor. Open and honest communication will save you a lot of time and eliminate potential risk to your project early on.
Allow Vendors to Help You Strategize
You are not the first and you won’t be the last. Remember your vendor is now your partner. They’ve worked with your competitors, they know what works and what doesn't. Be sure to allow them the opportunity to share their expertise as chances are they’ve been around the block a few times and know which pitfalls to watch out for. The slogan here should be “When We Succeed You Succeed.”
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw
As a project manager, you can never overcommunicate. Communicate timely and communicate often. Here are a few tips that lead to effective communication when leading a project.
Establish a Communication Plan
This should start with your stakeholders. For each stakeholder that has been identified you will need to update your communication plan to show the following:
- The stakeholder
- What kind of communication will be used to update them
- How often will communication take place
- What information should be included in the communication
Effective project managers listen to their teams. You want to be able to understand issues so you can work to fix them. As a project manager, you want to listen for both verbal and nonverbal cues. To be more specific, this means being in tune with your teams' tone and body language will be key to identifying issues in the project.
It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It
Remember you’ve got to give respect in order to get respect. Treat your team well and they will (most times) treat you well in return. Projects are about the people and good project managers are effective at developing strong relationships. Strong relationships result in projects running smoothly. A smoothly ran project is key to the successful completion and outcome of the project.
Even though there always seems to be an issue that arises in any project, being able to effectively manage all parties involved paired with consistent and detailed communication will help you deliver successful projects.
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Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 1:45 PM
by Thelma Freeman