You do, after all, want to keep the customer informed, happy, involved in the project, and wanting more work. Customer satisfaction is one of the three key ingredients to successful project delivery. My motto is always “You're only as successful as your last customer thinks you are.” So, keep the customer happy, and you're successful.
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To that end, I'm identifying 11 tips to a better project outcome. And that isn't always just about customer happiness and satisfaction. It also means a more productive and high performing team.
It may just mean more efficient project management processes which lead to the project manager doing a better job of managing the project and the resources working on it.
Here are my 11 tips for doing a better job of delivering on your current projects.
1. Dashboard Reporting.
If you aren't already doing so, implement dashboard reporting in your regular – hopefully weekly – project status reporting. I fully believe in a one size fits all status reporting style. Why create one for your customer, one for your team, one for your supervisors and one for whoever else needs it on your long list of stakeholders? Just create one project status report that generally takes care of everyone's needs. Adding a dashboard will go a long way in making those many different stakeholders happy. That quick insight will either answer a lot of quick questions or dissuade other questions, freeing up your time to manage the project and do what you need to be doing.
2. Shorter, increased frequency status calls.
Want to make project improvements fast? Increase communication, don't decrease it. If you need to improve things this week, add communication including team and customer touch points. Do this by having more calls, more meetings, more status report discussions and distributions, and more distributions of the project schedule. I'm not saying to do that for every project every week from now on. We do have lives and need to do the actual project work. But if a project needs some help, increasing the project touch points with key stakeholders can improve things fast. At least in the short term and sometimes that is all we are talking about.
3. Budget review.
Review the budget with the team. You may be doing this every week on your own as the project manager, but if you want to ensure team accountability for their hours then involve the entire project team in the budget review process. Awareness breeds accountability. Trust me; this does work.
4. Resource review.
Likewise, your project team members are the ones working daily on the project tasks. They may have some added insight that you don't have. They also know – firsthand – their commitments to other projects. Their participation in weekly resource forecasting efforts can only help.
5. Mid-project review.
We conduct project reviews periodically and post-mortem. It all depends on the project and the customer. But if you're not conducting any mid-project reviews, then be sure to add one or two to the schedule. Again, more review and more communication can be a very good thing for accountability and for customer satisfaction – especially if the project needs that kind of a boost.
6. Add issues to the project report.
Make sure there is a place in the status report for current, outstanding issues on the project. You should be driving to have one size fits all status reporting and including issues on the project status report keeps it all in one place.
7. Send someone onsite for some tasks or for the next meeting with the remote client.
If you're working with a remote client or leading a virtual team and rarely have physical touch points with the project client, arrange to either visit the client yourself or send someone from the team onsite to complete some tasks. It will serve double duty to get some work accomplished and accomplish some face time with the project client. Always a good thing if there is any indication that the project needs that at this point.
8. Get a C-level involved in your project.
It never hurts to get senior management involved in your project, proactively, I mean. If the client calls your CEO, then that's bad. But if you ask your CEO to show up to a client meeting just to make the client feel important, then that's a good thing. The project client will get the feeling that their project is a priority to your organization and their satisfaction level and approval level will rise.
9. Do a disaster recovery or cyber security presentation for the client.
These can get costly so be careful, but asking the client to come on site and see a presentation of the disaster recovery and / or digital security measures and backup processes you have in place could be a good thing for the project – especially if you're handling extra sensitive information for the client. They will gain confidence that you have business continuity under control and that a security issue isn't likely to knock their project off the rails.
10. Give away some work.
If you're finding the client to be extremely concerned with cash and budget, perhaps you can offer some work for free. Obviously, be aware of what you're giving away and get approval to do so from your senior leadership. But if the project client knows they are getting some free work, that will definitely be a benefit to the project.
11. Pick up the phone.
Finally, just pick up the phone and call the customer. If you are usually just emailing status, questions, and answers back and forth with the client, give them a call. The voice is a good thing to inject when usually all they are getting is electronic communication. Ask them how they are doing. Ask them how they think the project is going. Listen. Learn.
Summary / call for input
Want to improve how the project is going? Want to set the project up for a positive outcome? Try any or all of these 11 tips for project improvement and shake it up a bit. What else would you add to the list? What do you do periodically to improve your project outcome and customer satisfaction?