The account is closed and the monies start rolling in. We’ve bagged the client and it’s a brand name that is worth bragging of for the years to come. The account manager has earned his incentives for a job well done.
Then begins the interesting albeit overwhelming phase of project management.
The question that most project managers grapple with is this: Is Project Management the SCIENCE OF MANAGING THE PROJECT OR THE ART OF MANAGING THE CLIENT? There are some sticky situations that we, as project managers tend to get into. I’ve touched upon a few key ones below:
Sticky Situation 1: Creepy Crawlies
The client asks for additional deliverables that were not accounted for in the project scope. These requests creep in subtly but may soon snowball into a large-ish scope extension which impacts the project financially
What can we do? Ask the right questions initially which will define the scope of the project more tightly. Also evaluate the client request to see whether it can be accommodated with minimal cost and resource implication
Sticky Situation 2: Pass the Parcel
Your internal delivery team members are not on the same page as you when it comes to what needs to get delivered for the client. This is a sticky situation which presents itself more often when there are multiple delivery consultants working on the same project.
What can we do? Communication is the key! Always keeps the communication flowing between client and delivery consultants. You need to make sure that any recent information is passed on to the other party with the suitable context so that there is no room for misinterpretation
Sticky Situation 3: You just missed the bus
How often does it happen that you’ve communicated the deadline for a client delivery internally to the project team and delivery team right at the beginning of the project and they still miss the date? You had prepared a detailed project plan and even marked a reminder on your calendar. But you end up losing credibility with the client.
What can we do? It’s a good idea to have in-process steps within your project plan. For example, if a communication mail needs to be sent out on 15th September, it’s not merely enough to have the 15th September highlighted in your project plan. Plan for the interim steps and work backward so that you have a deadline of 10th September to create the draft invite, 12th September for internal approval, and so on. Also, have a reminder in your calendar to remind your project team of the approaching deadline!
Sticky Situation 4: Oh oh! Didn’t see this coming
The faster you learn that you are not God, the better! Not everything is in your hands and unexpected circumstances at the client end can change the scope in a project sometimes. You haven’t accounted for this change and now your entire plan around costing and resourcing flies out the window
What can we do? Ever heard of a ‘Plan B’? At the inkling of an unexpected scenario, sit with the client and discuss the potential risks to the project. Then, do the same with your internal project and delivery team. Pick on each others brains to come up with contingency plans around the given cost and resources. You’d be surprised to find out that the dumb-looking guy on the project team is actually the brightest bulb!
Is project management always smooth sailing? — No. But are there things we can do as project managers to work around problems without jeopardizing the credibility of your organization? —Definitely. Have fun with Project Management – it’s a great opportunity to create moments of delight for your customer.