A Successful Project Starts with the Manager

Published: Mar 31, 2009

 Workplace Issues       
Mace Corp. needs to create a new contact management system (an address book, calendar, call log, and so forth.) The project manager in question has a team of five people who can both design and implement this new system. If it's done successfully, the director of sales and marketing, the instigator of the project, will be very happy indeed. <p><b>Smells like Team Spirit</b><p>For optimal results, the project team must include representatives from the users who will actually use the new applications, as well as IT staffers. The director of sales and marketing doesn't need to be an active participant, but she'll need to show support ("buy in") through memos, emails and garden variety chats. <p><b>Set it Off</b><p>The most important part of the project is the "kick-off meeting". At this meeting the Project Manager invites all participants to discuss the project. This is the time to discuss the project methodology and timeline. It is very important that the director of sales and marketing attend this meeting. The success of a project is dependent on the participation of the team. The team can include great programmers, but without the input of the user community, the programming team cannot deliver an application that meets user needs. <p><b>What's the Requirement, Kenneth?</b><p>After the kickoff meeting the project manager must define the requirements of success. The first step in business analysis is interviewing the team participants. After the reviews, a report is disseminated to the full team and signed off on by the project sponsor, the director of sales and marketing. The project manager meets with the sponsor separately to ensure that her priorities and goals have been addressed properly <p><b>Assign and Communicate Responsibilities</b><p>The Project Manager can begin assigning tasks to the IT staff once he or she has a good feel for the direction of the project. As soon as the business requirements are defined, the Project Manager should meet with his team - as a group and individually - and review both individual tasks and overall priorities. It's important that each team member knows how he or she fits into the project.<p>~<b>Many Milestones to Go</b><p>As the project moves forward, it is paramount for the Project Manager to communicate the progress of the project to all project members. People need to feel that their opinions and efforts are being recognized. The best way to include everyone is to schedule "milestone meetings". If your project team is large, split it up. Lunch meetings are very effective. The goal is to show the full team how things are going. Additionally, it is useful to get the user community's input to insure that you are on the right track.<p><b>Delivery</b><p>It is essential that the Project Manager continues to push the project toward delivery. There are always obstacles to project deliveries: changes in scope, reduced resources, a slashed budget, or a shortened schedule. It is important that the Project Manager absorb all of this information and continue to update the team on how these changes will effect the delivery. The Project Manager must anticipate how every obstacle will affect the delivery date and then inform the project Sponsor of any changes. During the project, the project sponsor should have authority over changes in scope or delivery time. However, the Project Manager must make sure that the sponsor is making fully informed decisions. Communication is vital. <p><b>Success</b><p>A project is delivered successfully when the application has been tested, the users trained, and the solution implemented. It is useful to coordinate a "project sign-off meeting" when training begins. The team that was assembled for the kick-off meeting needs to reassemble to review the status of the project before final implementation.<p>This final meeting is a good opportunity to discuss future goals or revisions, NOT an opportunity to change scope. This get-together should be a "feel good" meeting. It is the Project Manager's duty to set the tone so that team understands the success of the project. While preparing the US Troops for D-Day, President Eisenhower said: "Optimism and pessimism are infectious and they spread more rapidly from the head downward than in any other direction."<p><i>Michael Kolbrener is the Director of Business Solutions at SGP International. SGP is a leader in the development and delivery of custom software solutions. You can reach Michael at mkolbrener@sgpnyc.com.<br>www.sgpnyc.com</i>