The job of the project manager is not an easy one. Sometimes it’s not even straightforward or logical. It can be rewarding - just maybe not a position for the faint of heart. So what we’ll cover in this two part series are five things that drive project managers crazy or make project management difficult at times. For some, these may just be pet peeves, but we’re betting that they are more widespread and may help you as you navigate your customer projects.
The Disengaged Customer
We do everything we can to manage our customers well. Full-featured online customer relationship management (CRM) systems can be used to manage all of our contact information, project milestones, project documents and specific tasks. Once you have a live, active customer, that customer management doesn’t stop – in fact, it’s just the beginning. The value of a fully integrated and nicely collaborative online CRM and project management system is that all project members can manage the customer to make sure that the customer always stays engaged.
Clearly your customer is interested in working with you, but your project may not be his or her top priority. Your customer has a day job – their own work and responsibilities that they are expected to perform at their own company for their own boss. Your project is likely add-on work to what they already do. So, sometimes customers can suddenly get pulled away. That can be a huge frustration when we need key information or help making an important decision for the project that affects both sides. To avoid this, try keeping the project sponsor assigned to some ongoing tasks and make them accountable for the weekly reporting of the status for their assigned tasks. It doesn’t always work, but it helps in most cases. And, as customer contacts are added or changed – be sure to help maintain that information in the CRM system as well.
The Revolving Project Team Lineup
Sometimes critical project team members at your customer get pulled away to other projects and there’s nothing you can do about it. This can hurt the project, and sometimes the replacement may not be of the same caliber as the original project contact from your customer. So you may be left to pick up the pieces, onboard the new project team member as quickly as possible, and keep the new project team contact satisfied and convinced that the project is still valuable to their company. There’s no faster way to transition to a new project contact than having all the historical data at your fingertips in your CRM system. If it’s appropriate, give the new project contact at your customer access to your CRM system so they can see the history first hand. If giving the customer access to your online CRM is not appropriate, at least export the schedule/milestones so they can get a high level overview of the project status.
The Revolving Project Milestones
You customer agreed to the project and the milestones. Now project “feature creep” is happening and your customer is constantly changing the scope of the project. Unfortunately, we can’t give a resolution to this issue because there’s a different answer for every unique situation. However, having all project documentation in one place -- so that it’s easy to access -- should help you tremendously when you negotiate with your customer.
So those are three of our five items for discussion. In Part 2, we’ll finish up with the final two. Keep in mind it’s certainly not an all-inclusive list, so feel free to offer your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.
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