Category: Uncategorized

How to make the most from Project Management Meetings

If you are spending a lot of time in meetings, then it would be a good idea to try and get the most out of them. It is well known that meetings for meetings sake is a waste of time, erodes productivity and hence becomes a liability. However, meetings which are constructive and produce results are invaluable, but how is that fine balance achieved?  A project management meeting can be divided into three parts, one that obtains a result before the meeting commences the contents of the meeting and finally the actions from the meeting.

Being prepared for the meeting is the first step, once the meeting invite is accepted, then make the most of any available time leading up to the meeting to prepare. This will ensure that time is being used to good effect. Read the agenda and any accompanying documentation; think through which parts are relevant and where more information is required. This may seem “common sense”, but it is a surprise on how this simple step is often missed.

The following may seem like a waste of time, but if decisions are really needed then a pre-meeting should be conducted. People often decide on the issues before they turn up. They use the meeting to showcase their stance. So, avoid the risk of the project meeting going off the rails by taking and setting the tone in advance. If holding a pre-meeting, meeting is not possible due to scheduling conflicts? Create a list of items to discuss by using online software that can be shared and collaborated on.

Good meeting etiquette is to ensure that the meeting starts on time and not to wait for late arrivals. If for any reason most of the participants are late, especially those participants who would have the most input, then don’t waste the time of the few who did turn up, defer the meeting. Or just ask the people who are present, “What could this group best use our time together for?” the answer may surprise.

As the chair of the meeting, it is understood attendees know each other, if this is not the case then do a round of introductions. If the attendees are not known, a suggestion to remember who they are is to draw a map of the table, in a notebook. Then fill in the map, so names and affiliations of everyone at the table are then known.

Commencing a meeting on a positive note normally draws out the best results. A great way to do this is to ask about people’s biggest successes since the last meeting. Determine the best method to obtain the information, after all meetings are conversations, and the structure should match this conversations need. Think about which format will work best for each agenda item:

  • One-way briefing or lecture
  • Free-flowing dialogue
  • Structured debate
  • Round-robin sharing

The workplace is made up of many different character types, and meetings are no different, it is normally quickly determine who the assertive, dominant, talk-about-everything people are. When they start to dominate or take away from the meetings desired outcome, thank them, and ask to hear from someone who does not contribute as readily. Those people have just as many good ideas and their opinions are equally helpful. So, invite them in, and give them space to be heard.

This will then lead to a positive culture in the meeting, which provides a real boost in the mood of the meeting. Creativity will increase and people will build on the germ of a good idea, rather than knocking it down. Rapidly call out any disrespectful behaviour and celebrate evidence-based and courageous contributions. Build on good ideas, and ask for concerns and counter-evidence when one idea seems to dominate

One method to remove any knee-jerk negativity is to give anyone a minimum of two minutes to make their point before anyone can jump in and challenge it. It compels people to listen and hear the whole point, rather than reacting to their first impression. It has been often found that during the course of the meeting its perspective can shift. As the person who leads the meeting can force a particular perspective, and stifle innovative thinking. Wherever possible, ask the question to which the statement itself is the answer. This lets the group find it for itself, or possibly a better answer is provided. Another approach is to ask the meeting about how other stakeholders would react to the conversation. Or what they would say if they were in the room. This achieves a better decision, perspective and richer solution.

Remember to remain alert to signs of rising tensions during the meeting, cool them early, before they have too much heat in them. Ask clarifying or checking questions that move people to become analytical about what they are saying. This dampens their emotional responses. One way to quell any tension is to label the emotions around the table and ask about them: “I see you are becoming agitated; can you tell me what’s triggered that?”

Ensure the meeting remains on track at all times reduce the chance of the meeting slipping, start each part of the meeting by writing the objective on a board. If the meeting goes off-track, allow anyone to re-assert the objective by pointing it out. And then place any new topic that has started to take over on a “parking lot” part of the board. Now the group can return to its original topic, and pick up on the parked idea later, if it is genuinely valuable.

A conclusion to the topic must be achieved before moving off the point. Summarize up to the point which was reached, and state clearly what the group needs to do to finish the conversation. Then kick-off again with an invitation to take the next step. The meeting should have a satisfactory conclusion, decisions need to be owned by the group, but individuals may assert their opposition. Actions need to be owned by the people who have accepted them. Before the meeting is disbanded, re-affirm decisions taken, and secondly firm up commitments to action.

Once the meeting is closed, then the following should occur, schedule some time shortly after the meeting to review notes, follow-up on actions, and consider what was learned. If time has been taken to prepare for the meeting then it should also be taken at its conclusion.

Meetings are just a way to disseminate information to a group and get feedback, too. Projectmanagementcompanion.com  has a selection of cloud-based project management software that helps plan, monitor and report on the progress of any project. There are great tools to control each stage of a project. A real-time dashboard not only provides up-to-the-minute data but makes graphs and charts targeted to meeting needs, whether with stakeholders or the team. Try one today free with a 30-day trial.

Scaled Agile Framework a comprehensive guide

Agile Framework

Scaled Agile Framework, also known as SAFe is the leading framework which helps companies in scaling agile. It is popular and widely used to increase productivity and quality of application development. It also promotes employee engagement and allows teams who are already using agile to work across other teams in the organization by using scaling agile framework.

Organisations use SAFe for various reasons to opt for scaling agile at the enterprise level, such as:

  • It helps organizations in scaling agile by implementing agile across larger, multi-team programs and portfolios.
  • It helps various teams in organizing and running agile across multiple platforms. It works on agile implementation without any delays and failures.
  • It can be implemented independently across multiple teams.

SAFe is also used when it becomes challenging to align the business departments across the program and at team levels. Safe methodology in collaboration with bug tracking tool can improve software quality.

It is widely used to improve product development lead time and time to market.

The guidelines used to implement a Scaled Agile Framework;

  1. Budget Constraints. You have to consider various economic constraints like development cost, production cost, delivery time, value.
  2. Working towards common goals. It helps in optimizing the entire system as one rather than working on its sections. It involves seeking business goals and mapping them to the team level.
  3. Preserve options. It discovers the various decisions aggressively by delaying decisions until it becomes essential.
  4. Integrating them with learning cycles. To understand and evaluate various other choices that cadence learning cycles are based on.
  5. Setting milestones and evaluation of the current system. It helps in measuring the progress through objectives rather than the phase-gate method, which is the conventional method.
  6. Visualize and manage the length of the flow of the process. Here the work is done in small batches and a controlled work in progress. It helps in enhancing the fast flow of value and learning.
  7. Learn from the knowledge workers. Knowledge workers can participate in the right environment, and knowledge workers have different impulse to work, which exhibits curiosity.
  8. Decentralized decision-making. It helps in promoting decentralized decision making, which leads to ethical decision making.

The following are five core competencies which are required for SAFe.

  • Team and Technical Ability
  • Lean-Agile leadership
  • DevOps and release on demand
  • Providing business solutions and lean system engineering
  • Lean portfolio management

The Lean-Agile Leadership focuses on organizational change and the right approach that agile leaders can instil to start and sustain the change. The lean-agile empowers individuals and teams to achieve operational excellence.

They learn, exhibit, and train on Safe’s agile values and principles. It values mind-set, principles, and practices to reach the maximum potential. It heads the work performed, which helps the system in continuously improving the system. The leaders drive the high performing agile teams, and the guidelines for Lean-Agile leadership are:

  • People who are well-versed with lean at the deeper levels. They can coach about lean in daily activities.

Transformation: The leaders of lean-agile help in transforming into a Scaled Agile Framework. They outline the entire process step-by-step, which includes the present step, the future ones, and to consider the importance of transformation.

Technical Agility and Team: Agility in teams is defined as the skills which are required to test, build, and deploy the value in short iterations. The agile teams use both the methods called Scrum and Kanban. They form ART teams where people collaborate to define, test, and deploy a solution.

Technical Agility: It defines the technical agility in terms of principles and practices that are used in a team to deliver quick, reliable solutions. Technical agility comprises of agile modelling, proven approaches, patterns for object-oriented software design, built-in quality.

DevOps and Release on Demand: The works on the principles and practices of DevOps which offer the capability to release a valuable project at less time to meet customer demands.

It also aligns operations, development, information security to improve efficiency by sharing responsibility and improving business results.

Lean Systems Engineering and solutions caters for the need of complex and large cyber system by using various modules such as requirement analysis, business capability definition, functional analysis and allocation, verification and validation, design alternatives, modelling, simulation and trade studies. It also provides a flow-based process and roadmaps, which helps in guiding the continuous development. These iterations reduce time and the risk of discovering issues and delivery.

Lean Portfolio Management guides in implementing lean by outlining how the organization can approach agile portfolio operations, fund investments, and governance. They perform with the assistance of these collaborations.

The entire portfolio includes three collaborations which manage the set of

  • Strategy and funding
  • Operations
  • Governance

These offer collaborations which enables you to execute commitments reliably and enable innovation by building four competencies.

In Conclusion the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) helps in overcoming the challenges an organization faces while scaling agile. SAFe’s Lean-Agile Principles gives a roadmap to implement the Scaled Agile Framework in an organization.

Get more done with these required problem solving skills.

When faced with a problem, many of us are prone to either delay working on the issue, or hope that the problem just goes away. Anyone who has been in this situation well understands that problems seldom go away on their own, intervention is required. Having the ability to solve problems keeps the project moving forward, this is not just for projects but any aspect of life, once obstacles are removed.  Hence, the quicker a problem can be resolved the quicker work can be done and the review of the solution can commence.

Once armed with both the skills and tools to solve problems effectively and swiftly assists not only when in a current job, but for futures ones as well. Regardless on the level and how quick a problem can be solved, once encountered, it can always be improved. Thus the following seven problem solving skills are important regardless on your work experience.

Do the Research

The ability to be thorough in research, this means doing the due diligence before embarking on executing a project, it is the foundation on which all problem solving resides. To not put it down as a fundamental skill that all good problem solvers have in common would leave a big hole in problem-solving skills. Ensure lessons learnt are well documented, this provides a precedent for responding to the problem. To understand the way others fixed a problem is to find a way out of the one faced.

The deeper delved into the research, the less likely a problem will be had to begin with. This and familiarity with a process will make for a better ability to identify an issue before it becomes a problem. Also team brainstorming only expands the knowledge base and improves problem solving, especially if the participants are experienced and have documented that experience into research of their own.

Conducting Analysis

Analysis in conjunction with research sows the seed of knowledge. It’s a way to take what is known and use it to understand why something is not proceeding as it should. Analysis comes in many forms, cost benefit analysis, gap analysis or any other form that helps understand current state. Analytical skills enables to visually see a situation and pull from it the core issue that is causing the problem. This problem-solving skill provides a pathway through the problem, developing effective solutions to resolve it.

These analytical skills are not merely good for triage, though it helps, but they can also assist prior to the problem when during the research stage. The problem with research is understanding, what is important and what it not. Analytical skills provide the tools to prioritize effectively, as time is always of the essence with any major problem.

Creativity

The ability to find a solution that is unique, this means not reactively responding to a problem, or providing a safe solution that will likely bring unsatisfactory results. Creativity is the ability to look at a problem from many perspectives. The creative-thinking skills include brainstorming, which opens discussions to more than one point of view and widens the lens to open a broader view of the landscape. Brainstorming is a type of collaboration, which is a great way to think creatively because it adds more voices to the mix.

Decision Making

Understanding the problem and discussing how to respond to it, does not provide resolution. Accepted that some action is better than none at all however the decision must be built based on research and analysis conducted in order to have the desired effect. Evaluate the best solution, and there are going to be more than one, and choose that which is most suitable and realistic.

Experience can assist with the ability to act fast, without a great amount of experience, the research and analytical skills provides the balance to work through issue. Upgrading decision-making process is one of the fastest ways to improve problem solving, so be aware of how and why decisions are being made.

Ability to Communicate

Communication is an essential part of a project; nothing can be done without the communication skills to deliver the solution to those who are responsible for its resolution. It’s not just being able to communicate clearly to orders, but knowing the right channel to communicate the message is also important. That message needs to go to the right people and reach them as soon as possible. Finding a solution to a problem is only one link in a larger chain. If that solution isn’t delivered to the parties that need it to repair the problem for the project to move forward, then it wasted time and effort.  Clearly map out your communications to get the best results.

If you are not a natural communicator, there are ways to learn how to communicate better. It takes empathy and active listening to develop trust and loyalty. Without that bond between a team, no matter how explicitly a message is communicated it will be misheard or even ignored.

Learn

There are exercises which can be performed to gain problem-solving skills, which assist with the ability to better respond to problems and solve them quickly. Logic reasoning tests help organize thoughts clearly, analyze them and choose the best course of action quickly. These tests will help recognize and avoid the typical logical fallacies.

Spatial-temporal reasoning tests your ability to mentally visualize objects, which is important to correctly perceive space and orienting ourselves. Numerical reasoning helps to understand structure, organize and solve problems with mathematical methods or formulas. Logical reasoning also helps with problem-solving skills in that it offers different propositions by using what is already known and what is believed to be known and even what is not known.

The IDEAL Method

The IDEAL method is an acronym that stands for Identify (the issue), Define (the obstacles), Examine (your options), Act (on an agreed course of action) and Look (how it turns out and whether any changes are needed). This process incorporates much of what has already been discussed and provides a clear template to addressing problems and quickly resolving them. When identifying a problem, hear from everyone on the team. Then define not only the obstacles but the projects goals when resolving. The exploration of possible solutions should look at not only if it will work, but if it’s safe, reasonable, the best solution, and other agreed factors.

Learning is an essential component of the IDEAL method. Whatever course of action is taken, it’s critical to monitor and report on how it worked or didn’t work. If it doesn’t work, then go back to the beginning and start fresh. This will also inform on what to do and what not to do the next time a similar problem happens.

Problems occur in any project, to think or believe otherwise is naive, they can be planned but never totally avoided. Projects can be corrected with the right problem-solving skills. ProjectManagercompanion.com provides a selection of cloud-based project management software which has the features needed to monitor and report on issues that arise, so they can be resolved before they grow into problems. See how it can help your team by taking any one of the free 30-day trial today.

When ego and personal agenda consumes projects

As project managers, behavior is always on show, the more experience obtained then the more disdain which can be displayed towards other project managers who may not be as experienced. This can relate to years in the industry or types of projects completed.  In this instance ego can either be a positive or negative impact on project delivery. It is important to be able to call out behavior that isn’t acceptable as it can corrode a project team.

If you have any longevity in delivering projects of any type, then it is more than likely you would have encountered different types of characters along the journey, each with their own set of challenges. From problematic stakeholders, absent or inexperienced sponsors, misalignment between those at the top and those at the coal face, or ineffective communicators within the team, there are many different personalities that intersect on a daily basis.

This all relates to the type of characters involved within the project, specifically their ego and how it plays out within dynamic and fast-paced environments. There is little argument to suggest that thick skin is required to be in the project management game, and egotistical behaviour in particular can threaten the success of a project.

When in a work environment with many characters to negotiate and Human Resources not too far away, It can be very difficult to speak the truth or call out behavior detrimental to the projects outcomes.  Especially when the environment doesn’t support it or it’s coming from sponsors and stakeholders who haven’t accepted warnings about problems or risks.

There is a leadership trait that can make a big impact on how landscapes dominated by ego’s can be navigated, called “being brave-smart”. Resources are facing demand from corporate politics and pressures that eventuate due to rapid change. So it is hardly surprising, then, that when high performers emerge and deliver what look to be successful projects, shaping how projects get delivered, particularly when they demonstrate high levels of confidence and seeming ability to get the job done. High achievers or performers often come with egos that, for better or worse, leave their mark on teams charged with delivering big change within the work culture.

Healthy egos belong to people who know they are good at what they do and utilise their knowledge and experience in productive ways. In healthy and supportive cultures, this sort of confidence is a huge enabler to delivering success. But it’s also personal. Life experience allows individuals to offer the best of them when they are comfortable with whom they are. When people feel good about what they’ve done, how they are doing, and themselves in general, it’s easier to tackle even the most challenging problems.

Brave-smart project managers implicitly understand that for a successful team, confidence is a must, but there’s a big difference between confidence and egotistical behavior. In toxic or deeply challenging environments, what often emerges is, a-perform-at-al- costs culture that can be deeply detrimental to success, as it allows egotistical behavior to thrive. It has been witnessed often enough to comfortably say when egotistical behavior becomes a factor in how projects operate; it’s a huge contributor to increasing the risk of failure. When all of the indicators are pointing toward success, this is easy to overlook. But when things start going wrong or off-course, ego can become a very big problem.

Fostering support and transparent culture is a quality in good leaders, who have the competence and ability to see beyond the egos in the room, the foresight to make the right decisions, and the courage to tackle egotistical behaviour head-on.  A good leader will make decisions on what is best for the project or the company and not focus the egos in the room.  They will evaluate situations on facts, seek clarification, get several views on a given situation, and they will ask for guidance where it’s necessary.

They ensure roles and responsibilities within their team is understood, that the right people are in the right roles, and they will adhere to the principles of strong governance. Most importantly, an effective leader is only as effective as the sponsor they are delivering for. If the sponsor isn’t listening, project leaders need to be adept enough to find a way to communicate news , whether good or bad.

Brave-smart leaders implicitly understand how important it is to spend time with the team to gauge how each of them is feeling and use positive reinforcement and other fit-for-purpose techniques to help create a positive environment to get the best from them.

Setting the tone is a valid – and invaluable – starting point for eliciting the kind of behaviors that leave ego at the door. Examples may include:

  • Agreeing what is acceptable behavior upfront
  • Listening and allowing others to speak
  • Valuing the input, opinion, and perspective from various viewpoints within the team
  • Remain focused on outcomes that the project is aiming to achieve as a team so that contributions remain in context, are not easily parked, and do not side-track or personalize matters
  • Ensuring that those with the egotistical behaviors need to back up what they say with facts
  • Setting the platform that enables Brave-Smart conversations to be had from the outset

Brave-smart behavior should always be the goal. When a team is clear on some of the above behaviors, it makes it easier – though not easy – to call out behavior like that of the egotist which is never conducive to fostering a long term productive delivery environment.

Focusing on available Skills to Find the Next Project Management Role

Regardless if you are a project manager who contracts or looking for the next permanent role, there are always fundamental skill requirements to focus on or highlight when landing the next role along your project management journey. It is essential to invest quality time into getting the CV or resume right.

Being able to sell yourself and your skills will separate you from the many other candidates also applying for that next role. Even the most experienced project managers can find themselves being overlooked for roles they are ideal for, by failing to adequately highlight the skills they have. The quality of the CV can make or hinder job-seeking prospects, so no assumptions should be made that experience and qualifications alone are enough. There are some ways available to draw attention to skills and make sure landing the next project management role is easier.

Some of the considerations here may seem like common sense, but you will be surprised how often they are overlooked, and if you are able to hone in on these items it should enable you to stand out from the pack.

The audience should be considered when the CV or resume is composed, remember it can be modified for each role being applied. When asked to consider the audience for a project management CV, most people will assume the answer is simple: the hiring manager, who is looking for a new project manager. However, in reality, things are not always this simple and there are actually often multiple audiences to consider before the hiring manager is reached.

The CV should be written with three key audiences in mind. The first is a machine, the second is the person in charge of shortlisting, and the third is the hiring manager who will eventually make the decision.

The problem with focusing solely on the hiring manager is that your CV may never reach them. For this reason, you need to give consideration to what a machine will be looking for in order to pre-qualify CVs, and what a shortlisting professional might look for, given they may not actually have any project management knowledge.

Machines are likely to want to see common project management training phrases, keywords and qualifications, so make sure these are listed clearly. For instance, highlighting any completed online PM courses, and certifications such as PMP or PRINCE2, this should also be clearly mentioned.

The person in charge of shortlisting is more likely to be looking into personal details and general competency. Make sure any gaps in employment history are explained and avoid spelling and grammatical errors. Then focus on impressing the hiring manager with specific skills and past project successes.

The CV should always be tailored for the role, so it shows the specific skills and attributes that the role being applied for requires. Ensure to thoroughly read through the job advertisement, the person specification and any other relevant material and make a list of the skills they request.

Once known what they are looking for, create a CV that showcases the relevant skills and helps you to stand out as the ideal candidate. For instance, if the recruiter is looking for Agile project management skills, then list any Agile project management training completed, and giving examples of past Agile projects.

Again the following may seem logical, but is a feature frequently missed, this could be because there is an assumption from your experience that it is a given that your skill complies with the role. So if the role is for a project manager, you should describe yourself as a project manager. If they speak about a project charter instead of a project statement, you should too. Remember to always be truthful when describing skillset and where worked as any lies are likely to be found out.

When describing skills and roles, remember to be as specific as Possible. Regardless of whether emphasising soft skills or job-specific skills, avoid being too general. There are only so many times a recruiter can read phrases like “excellent communication skills” and “great attention to detail” without rolling their eyes, so stand out by being as factual as possible without being repetitive.

Also focus on any soft skills possessed, highlight communication skills, and make sure the CV reads well. If you are committed to continuing your own personal development, make sure your CV shows evidence of this through any online PM courses completed. In terms of more specific project management skills possessed, try to think of the ones that are going to be most relevant – planning skills, risk management skills, resource management skills, etc. – and demonstrate that you have them. This can be achieved by talking about specific previous projects you have managed, and any awards received.

Job history should include some basic contextual information about what the role was, what it entailed, and what successes enjoyed. Of course, the balancing act with this is to avoid going into too much detail. Try to be clear and concise, as ideally a CV should fit onto two pages.

Regardless of how qualified for project management roles you may be you can still miss out. Don’t fail to take the appropriate steps to manage your CV, by highlighting the skills possessed by writing with all relevant audiences in mind, by tailoring your CV to the role you are applying for, and by being as specific and factual as you can. Remember, you are not the only one applying for roles, so take advantage of skills and highlight certifications to land the next role, as you are competing against your peers.

Delivering Projects for different types of Clients

In the course of a project manager’s career, there will be many different types of clients with varied personalities to satisfy. One of the most critical skills which can be learnt is how to relate to, work with, and leverage the strengths of team members. For professional services leaders, being able to adjust communication styles to meet other personalities doesn’t just end with the team. In order to manage successful projects for clients, the project manager has to be malleable, adjust to the people and the environment, while maintaining workflow and project management best practices.

The following are some of the 4 most common types of client personalities and strategic actions which can be taken to deliver the project without sacrificing productivity. 

The hovering client

Known as the helicopter personality type, unfortunately projects don’t always run smoothly and if a client has experienced failure before then expect a lot of distractions. As the client who has experienced delays previously will be anxious and expect to be asked a lot of questions. This could be the case because the client had poor status visibility of a previous project. Whether jaded from previous projects or simply over-interested, this type of client may flood inboxes with “checking in” emails. If this is the case then the client is hovering and the biggest challenge is satisfying this client by being responsive with request updates, without letting it take too much time. Statistics indicate, when working with the helicopter type client, valuable time is spent on updates that affect project delivery.

It’s difficult to be proactive when dealing with a hovering client, due to having constantly responded on update requests. But using a single source of truth and building visibility into workflow can be the secret behind satisfaction. Depending on requirements, using a project management platform or Excel spreadsheets to visualize tasks and centralize project details could do the trick. 

Dashboards are a good way for clients and internal stakeholders to view real-time project progress. Using a single source of truth by establishing a central repository where clients can find information easily. A tool should be used that has dashboard capabilities that show project task statuses. When kicking off projects, walk clients through the workflow statuses which will be used, how notification will occur and any task status changes.

Being consistent and sticking to this approach should instil the project teams understanding of the client’s requirement and displays empathy and professionalism. Setting process from the beginning and providing visibility settles anxious or curious clients. Understanding processes and statuses act as the basis of workflow by providing clients with visibility without the extra work.

The distant client

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the distant client, the set and forget type. This type of client only wants high-level information with the project manager running the program with little client interaction.  The challenge here is keeping them informed without overwhelming the client. The challenge with this type of client:

  • There’s no clear measure of success.
  • Little to no follow-up on questions, making it hard to stay on top of task due dates and align with their vision.
  • The project team will waste time trying to track down information. 
  • Questions from client executives will cue fire drills that take the team out of the flow to get the client answers.
  • Without a real sense of ownership on the clients end, the review and approvals process can take some time.

When projects are delayed, frustration and suspicion can quickly arise because the client doesn’t fully understand the scope.

When working for a customer who remains distant, provide them with a project map. Commence the project with a questionnaire that gathers all the needed project information. Teams create a form that triggers specific questions based on responses. Questionnaire forms help the distant client think through their needs so expectations can be set from the beginning. 

Taking this approach can be done with a list pre-set questions for different projects in a Google form, spreadsheet, or document, hence no special project management tool is required. Create a project template with consistent steps, workflow statuses, and ways of notifying stakeholders when projects progress. 

Once the questionnaire answers are received and the requirements understood, kick off the project with a template that clearly states the delivery work and when client feedback is required. Using a Gantt chart with relevant information provides a good project view.

The Lock Down client

As data breaches become more prevalent, clients are becoming more careful about how and where they share their information. Data security concerns keep clients from being flexible and allowing them to build better relationships with customers. The lock down client will be hesitant about providing the project manager all the details needed to succeed. They also might want to work within their own collaboration systems, which take the project team out of their normal workflow.

This can be worked around by providing integrations, capabilities and document protocols. There are three ways a project team can add security measures into their workflow to satisfy this type of client.

  • Offer flexible and secure ways for clients or external stakeholders to provide feedback and approvals.
  • Establish project folder permissions that can limit visibility into task information both internally and externally.
  • Use the cloud to remain flexible and meet clients’ security requirements while preserving visibility and collaboration.

In order to be flexible for the security conscious client, use a project management tool that can securely integrate into other tools like Slack, a DAM, CRM, and more. Offering a secure work management platform provides the project team and the client with a safe space to create winning strategies. Regardless of the work management tool chosen, make sure it assists with managing client projects and provides industry-leading protection for full collaboration.

Too many leaders

Feedback consolidation when there are too many decision makers, and there is no channel to decipher the information. The project team need to work out which of the pieces of information is the one which should be actioned. As there could be a struggle with consolidating feedback and communication across email threads, spreadsheets, etc., and the most common factor for project delays are last-minute changes to requirements followed by delays due to conflicting priorities. Working with a group of decision makers can be challenging, with different personalities, drives, and goals involved, it’s hard for project leaders to satisfy everyone.

Providing the client with a structure and a framework should alleviate the challenges around task ownership, requirement changes, and difficulties in the approvals process. As part of the project kick off determine roles and responsibilities. Using responsibility frameworks like RACI, RAPID, or DACI provides structure to the group.

Giving stakeholders ownership and defining roles keeps the whole team focused as the project progresses. The project team should then be able to leverage these frameworks in order to professionally keep clients on track and in check when an “informed” member tries to overstep their boundaries.

Once clear roles are established, the next challenge is for the client to proof and approve. This can be achieved by using an asset like email where they upload it into the software tool and assign stakeholders to provide feedback. Reviewers digitally mark up the asset so all stakeholders can see comments in real time. This breaks down communication silos and streamlines the actions needed to get that final approval. This can be achieved with existing tools by clearly defining who should provide feedback how it should be received and when it’s due.

Having a good sense of humour is often a good remedy when dealing with stressful situations, there’s no reason work life should affect project delivery. Understanding how to satisfy different client personalities and working styles will set project managers apart, and keep clients coming back again and again. 

In order to scale these tactics, weave project management best practices into workflow consistently. Using collaborative work management platform assists in satisfying clients while building highly productive workflows.