So, you’ve decided to hold yourself as a sponsor accountable for the results of your project. Congratulations! Now, what can you do to build and engage the right team to get it done for you?
Prepare to communicate – slow down and get your point across
- You’ve been working on this idea or problem for weeks, maybe months. You are anxious to move on to the next idea. But the team is probably hearing this for the first time. You need to back up and explain from the beginning. Then give them some soak-time so they can get to the same mental place you are.
- You think you know what needs to be done. You don’t. You changed your mind twenty times as you were developing your solution. Right now, what you really want is clouded by all the other alternatives you considered. Spend the time to clearly document your final solution.
Who do you need to communicate to?
Think about people that can help you finish the project and people that will be impacted by the outcome. Involving those customers early will help greatly when it comes time to roll out the solution. Make sure every person on the team knows what each person’s roles and responsibilities are for this project. Who has the final say about what when there’s a disagreement or conflict? Who has the authority to shift priorities of other projects to get this one done.
What are you communicating?
- What – What’s the problem you are solving and what solution did you select? Why is that solution the most attractive and what other options were rejected? The team needs to understand what’s most important about your particular solution so they can make decisions and improvements that complement your solution.
- Why – What will success look like. Make it the most direct metric available. Don’t just say “improve sales”. Are you trying to increase traffic to any page on the website, the number of times someone clicks the buy button, or the number of completed sales as determined by a receipt produced? What have those numbers looked like for the last few months and how quickly do you expect them to move? Will there be other projects or marketing that will potentially change the numbers at the same time or before this project? Your team needs a target that’s as clear as possible. Don’t put them at the firing line in the fog with a target obscured by a wall.
- When – When does this need to be completed and why. Nothing kills a project team’s morale more than some arbitrary date set by some unknown person. Tell them why the date is important. Is there another project that’s waiting for this one? Will the problem get significantly worse every day it’s left unresolved? If they come up with a better option that takes 2 weeks or 2 months longer, will you even consider it? You’ll likely be competing with other projects for their time and effort. You need to inspire them to find ways to keep the project on track.
- How – How will the project be managed? Will everyone keep up with their own tasks or is one person being assigned to coordinate and track? What parameters on time, resource, or money should set off alarms?
Finally done? Not so fast.
Once you go through all this, the Project Manager will completely change it. They’ll spend possibly weeks putting it in a different format and changing all your carefully chosen words. It will be incredibly frustrating for you and feel like a complete waste of time. Get over it. They’re verifying their own understanding and translating into IS-speak. It’s their job.
Your job at the end of the translation is to go back to your original document. Have the PM show you where each key piece is included in their documentation. Ask them what other information was included that wasn’t in the original. Make sure their interpretation reflects your reality.
- Part 1: Getting projects done with or without a Certified Project Manager (leadingremotely.com)