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Engagement Management: A Key to Successful Projects

If you are experiencing unproductive disagreements, dissatisfied stakeholders, finger pointing, and misunderstood roles and responsibilities, look to your engagement management (EM) process.


All projects are engagements among project managers, performers, clients, sponsors, functional managers, and “customer care” people in sales and support roles. Whether you are in an organization providing contracted services or you are managing in-house projects with clients in your same organization, if you manage a project without managing the engagement, you are likely to fail to satisfy stakeholders, even if your project achieves its objectives.


This article describes engagement management and the critical importance of collaboration and the clarity of roles, responsibilities and objectives to ensure that stakeholders are satisfied:

  • Clients are satisfied because their expectations are met – what you promised, what they bought, what they need, and what you deliver match up.
  • Sponsors are satisfied because there is value to the organization, desired benefits are realized at an acceptable and expected cost
  • Performers and managers are satisfied when they are not overburdened by impossible demands, unnecessary bureaucracy, unhealthy relationships, and poor working conditions
  • Regulators, accountants, attorneys, procurement specialists are satisfied when their views are respected and rules, protocols, and regulations are followed


The Engagement Management Process

Wise service industry organizations formally recognize the engagement management process with pre-sales, sales, performance (projects and services), relationship management, and support functions as part of an overall engagement.


For example, a typical service organization has the following functions involved in each engagement

  • sales and marketing to attract and ‘close’ clients
  • engagement management to oversee and coordinate
  • delivery to manage and perform projects
  • functional managers and staff to provide resources and expertise
  • procurement to find vendors, negotiate, and manage contracts
  • legal to make sure that contracts are clear, valid, and satisfy needs of the parties
  • quality management to make sure what is delivered is acceptable
  • customer service to manage the relationship, maintain communications, and provide support,  before, during and after the project
  • administration and finance for accounting, billing, reporting and other services.


Roles and Responsibilities

Roles and responsibility assignments vary depending on organization structure and the relationship between the client and the providers. The structure and degree of formality of the process depends on the stakeholders’ legal relationship. If they are in separate corporations, procurement, accounting, and legal issues must be formal and precise to avoid unnecessary conflict and better manage the conflict that does arise.


When the providers are in-house, there is a similar need for clear understanding among the stakeholders. Though, since there are no legal requirements, it takes greater discipline to follow best practice standards that manage disagreements and unmet expectations. Legal and procurement professionals may have no involvement but someone (the PM, a PMO, or a quality management group) needs to make sure that agreements are clearly documented, and decisions are made with objectivity.

Whether in-house or not, a project manager (PM) may play multiple roles. For example, sometimes the PM provides customer support and sometimes business analysts, salespeople, or customer service specialists play this role. Sometimes the PM is the engagement manager.




The Engagement Manager

Everyone should be clear about who is doing what, who has final authority, what reporting is required, and how decisions will be made – majority, consensus, authority.

Holding the engagement together is an engagement manager, who may be managing a portfolio of accounts with multiple projects and is responsible for making sure the clients are happy and the contributors to the engagement are playing together nicely.


Whether the client and provider are in the same organization or not, there is a similar need for attracting and closing realistic deals, establishing and performing a project, maintaining healthy stakeholder relations, and following up with support.

The Engagement manager makes sure all engagement functions are assigned, coordinated, and well performed, and that the expectations of all parties, including performers and executive sponsors in both provider and client organizations are managed.


The Sales Role

The sales role is as important when the project is in-house as it is in vendor situations.  Though in-house engagements often fail to recognize the need for a sales role.  Some of the in-house sales work, performed by “champions,” evangelists, or advocates, may be to promote project ideas and “sell” sponsors and clients on an in-house solution over vendor alternatives.

The sales function often leads when it comes to setting client and sponsor expectations and pricing, though these must be influenced by project constraints and costs.


Effective engagement management (EM) avoids a disconnect between the people who set client expectations (sales)and the project and support people charged with delivering the results. A well-defined EM process will ensure input from delivery and a decision by engagement management or sponsors as to the final deal. Salespeople are most effective for the organization when they are compensated based on the profitability of their sales.

Consultative selling ensures that both the client and provider understand the client’s needs. Collaborative selling involves delivery experts in the process of defining and pricing the work.


What You Can Do

Engagement management is both necessary and complex. If you are experiencing dissatisfied stakeholders and lots of useless and avoidable conflicts, it is likely that your engagement management process needs to be assessed and improved.

The first question to ask is “Do we have a defined process?” There is always a process, but if it isn’t defined, roles and responsibilities are likely to be unclear and some functions may not be performed well or at all.


For example, if customer service and engagement management functions are not identified and assigned, responsibility defaults to the PM. If the PM is aware of the needs and has the necessary competency, all will be well. But if the PM expects someone else to handle the relationships and accountabilities, and no one picks up the work, there will be trouble – arguments, dissatisfaction, etc.

To avoid trouble, whether you are part of a contractor firm or an in-house service department, step back, assess and define your process. You can do this for a single project, but it is better if it is done on a broader scale. It requires involvement and buy-in from all the stakeholders in the sales, customer service, and performance organization.


Related articles
Improving Project and Engagement Management Performance
Vision and Systems View to Improve Performance
The Challenge Of PM In Engagement Management

The Role of UI/UX Design in Cross-Platform App Development

Going cross-platform is the smart choice these days, given the ever-growing number of devices and operating systems. However, mobile app development would be incomplete without a well-designed UI and a positive user experience.


Building features according to the client’s business requirements is of prime importance. Making them with a natural, user-friendly flow is, or at least should be, part of that goal. This is because most people wouldn’t bother to give negative feedback if they’re unsatisfied with their app experience. 91% of users simply stop using the app rather than complain about it.


Why The Role of UI/UX Design Is Important

An app’s user interface is what users interact with to use it, and every app design company knows that UI/UX design can be the difference between market success and failure. We can explain its significance through the following benefits:


Engage Users

A well-crafted UI/UX design is one that’s thoughtfully created. Creating a “wow effect” in apps to make them look cool and trendy isn’t enough – the app should be usable. Users are more likely to stay on your app and explore its features if the navigation is intuitive and the interactions are smooth.

Therefore, designers who forego excessively complex and flashy designs for performance and user-friendliness can easily deliver a positive and engaging user experience.


Enhance Performance

The app’s performance gets affected by the number of design elements, which means UI/UX design can improve or degrade it. Nearly half of users stop engaging with an app because of poor performance, which is why paying attention to UI/UX without compromising performance is essential.

A well-designed app will not only rate high on usability, but also be lightweight, so it doesn’t negatively impact the app’s overall speed and responsiveness. In fact, the right use of design elements can uplift user experience by enhancing performance.


Build Loyalty

An app’s features pull in customers, but its design makes them want to use it. A UI UX design company knows how to keep users coming back– by giving them an app that’s easier to use and works the way they would expect.

The more convenient an app is, the quicker the user develops a habit of using it. They will be looking forward to new feature releases and updates before they know it. Gaining the attention of the existing audience and making them your loyal users will prove advantageous in the long term.


Make An Excellent First Impression

Even the most loyal app user first judged the book by its cover, as is human nature. In other words, a majority of users will form an opinion about your app before they even begin to use it. They will most likely go through the app’s screenshots on the Google Play or Apple App Store page of the app.

The app’s UI/UX design will help them decide whether the app is worth their time. Therefore, an elegant, efficient design with easy access to their desired features can make a world of difference.




How UI/UX Design Impacts Business Success

Investing in UI/UX design for cross-platform app development services can yield substantial benefits for your business:

  • Increased user acquisition: A well-designed app that delivers an exceptional user experience attracts more users, boosting user acquisition rates and expanding your customer base.


  • Higher conversion rates: Intuitive UI/UX design can lead to increased conversions, as users are more likely to complete desired actions. For example, they will complete their purchases or subscribe to a service.


  • Positive word-of-mouth and reviews: Satisfied users are more likely to share their positive experiences with others. This leads to word-of-mouth referrals and positive app reviews, further enhancing your app’s reputation.


  • Competitive advantage: A well-designed app can be a differentiator in a crowded marketplace. It will give your business a competitive edge over others by standing out to users for all the right reasons.



App design is just as important as other aspects because it directly affects user experience. A good user interface goes beyond aesthetics; it considers ease of use alongside functionality for the best results.

However, finding talented designers with a working understanding of modern UX trends can be difficult. You may have to search for an established UI/UX design company with relevant experience and a knack for delivering what the user desires.


Manage Adversity with Resilience

The way we handle adversity, particularly our resilience, impacts performance. Adversity is anything that gets in the way of achieving goals and objectives. It takes many forms, including self-doubt, emotional reactivity, and disruptions like loss, error, stress, or unexpected change. Some adversity is to be expected.


Our self-awareness and mindset are the keys to successfully handling adversity. Train the mind so you DON’T FREAK OUT. React in panic, anger, or fear and you will not be able to respond effectively. Calm down, manage emotions and mental habits, in the face of adversity and you will be able to recover and respond.

There are many techniques for calming down, but that is a topic for another time. You can visit for some ideas.


Here, in this article, the focus is on how we perceive adverse events. We can view them as obstacles or opportunities. We can believe that we are helpless or that we can influence our situation.



Resilience relies on accepting adversity, perceiving it as an opportunity to recover, and knowing you can act even though you may not be in complete control.

Resilience is the ability to roll with the punches and recover from adversity, to return to a stable state after a disruption. When your project hits a wall, resilience allows you to carry on as best you can.


For example, after a poor performance review, resilience enables an individual, team, or organization to grow from the feedback rather than becoming depressed by it or resistant to it. A resilient project manager will bounce back and learn from the experience of a failed project. An organization that promotes resilience does not blacklist a manager who has failed, but instead provides support.


A resilient person tends to take an active approach toward solving problems, perceives their experiences as constructive opportunities, engages others for assistance and support, and has a positive and practical vision of life.

A resilient team or organization is made up of resilient individuals who support one another. It recovers and moves on when faced with adversity


Adversity Quotient®

Adversity Quotient® (AQ) is a measure of resilience.

“Adversity Quotient® – is a measure of a person’s capacity to deal with the challenges that he or she experiences on a daily basis” (Paul Stoltz, Adversity Quotient®: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities, 1997).”


Paul Stoltz identified four C. O. R. E. dimensions for measuring AQ – Control, Ownership, Reach, and Endurance.


Control is the degree to which there is a sense of the ability to predict and influence adversity. The perception of control, the ability to influence outcomes, results in an incentive to act. The opposite leads to apathy. The person who feels that they have no control is likely to think “There is nothing I can do, so I won’t do anything.” Of course, the practical reality is that we do not have total control. But we can influence the future. Knowing that, if we work at it, we can at least control the way we think and act.


Ownership refers to the sense of accountability for outcomes. With ownership comes the drive to avoid or work through adversity.


Reach looks at the scope of adversity. If adversity is viewed as having a very broad impact on one’s life, the individual will likely feel helpless and pessimistic. They will feel as if they have little control, and according to Stoltz, will make poor decisions and isolate themselves. Containing adversity, seeing its impact as having a defined scope, benefits individuals and groups by increasing a sense of control and promoting ownership.


Endurance is linked to the perceived duration of an adverse event. If the adversity is seen as temporary one will be more likely to push on than if it is viewed as never ending. For example, a project manager who perceives that their innate ability (a permanent condition) is the cause of a failure is less likely to persevere than one who views the cause as a temporary condition, like an error or insufficient effort, which can be corrected.




Developing a Resilience Mindset

Resilience can be cultivated. The C.O.R. E. dimensions point to a mindset change. Mindset drives feelings and feelings drive behavior, and performance.

When we have a mindset that believes that we can influence the conditions we face and that we are accountable for the outcome, we shift from helplessness to power. With a mindset that is intent on learning from the agitation that comes with adversity there is acceptance rather than pushing away or hiding from unpleasant feelings.


In one situation a project manager faced with the loss of a key, highly skilled project team member who held significant institutional knowledge was able to move on and recover. Recognizing but not being driven by her anxiety, she mentally stepped back and worked out a transition plan including a “download” of information and adjustments to the schedule. The project would not only succeed but would be in a better position because it no longer relied on a single key player.

We are most able to manage adversity when we step back, own the situation, assess it, define its reach and duration, and understand that the change or problem is not the end of the world as we know it.


How do You Change Your Mindset

It is easy to say, “Change your mindset and become resilient.” However, doing it requires intention, self-awareness, and intentional patient effort.


To break the habits that get in the way of resilience:

  • Understand that your mindset is the result of years of conditioning and mental habits.
  • Know that you can change the way you think by patiently
    • paying attention to your thoughts and feelings,
    • questioning your beliefs and biases, and
    • persistently applying the effort needed to change.



The relationship between adversity quotient® and job – PEAK Learning
The power of Adversity Quotient to one’s productivity
Organizational Resilience and Adversity Quotient

Questions to Ask in the Project Management Interview

I have worked in Project Management for over a decade and in a variety of different organizations. While most organizations value the PMP ® Certification, as is evident in the many jobs descriptions where this is a “Preferred Qualification”, not all organizations prescribe to the PMBOK guidelines/framework.

In some organizations, due to extremely aggressive timelines, the project may already be in progress and the charter (which defines the scope) and or budget have not been finalized. There are also scenarios where scope creep occurs frequently due to the lack of ability to say no to the customer and project management insight into the level of effort that is received, but not considered in determining the timeline once a customer or senior leadership has a certain deadline in mind.

Project Management is a discipline and if you are like me, you were drawn to Project Management because of the process, order, and structure it provides. There is no better feeling than adding Project Management structure and organization to help an organization reach its goals. However, it can be disheartening when the skills you have acquired and honed to be a Project Management Professional are not valued. Even worse, it can lead to burnout.

I want to help mitigate the risk (see what I did there) of your joining an organization, department, or group that does not value the project management discipline and help you identify a role/organization that does.

Here are some questions to ask during the project management interview so you can determine whether a role within that organization will be a fit for you.




Questions and Insights


1.       Do you have a centralized PMO?

If the organization has dedicated resources to building a Project Management Office, then there will be some standard practices and processes in place to promote organization, standardization, governance, and guidance for all projects. They should also provide access to deliverable and report templates. Feel free to ask more questions about the PMO so you can understand how you will be supported by the organization during your employment.


2.       How are projects approved?

There needs to be a formal approval process for projects, so the Project Manager is not inundated with too many projects. Whether you are using Agile or Waterfall methodology, managing projects takes thought and planning.


3.       What is the change management process?

Issues with changes typically arise more with Waterfall projects because with Agile projects, only certain amounts of features can be added within a sprint. If you are in a Waterfall environment and internal or external customers are frequently asking for more, there needs to be a formal process in place to assess the change requested and the impact on the project to determine if it can be completed. This way your team members aren’t overworked, or your timeline is not derailed by additional requests.


4.       What authority do Project Managers have in this organization?

Project managers are problem solvers, strategists, communicators, and much more. In some organizations, the role is more focused on administrative tasks such as scheduling meetings, taking notes, and creating status reports. While that is a component of project management, that is not the entirety of the role. Asking about the authority the Project Managers have within the organization can help you identify whether their expectations of the role and yours are aligned.


5.      How do you support your Project Manager when they have difficult clients?

Having formal processes in place to manage the project can help with difficult clients. However, there are times when the Project Manager may need support in enforcing those processes. Asking this question can help you determine whether your perspective manager will give in to client requests or if they will support you in enforcing processes and procedures.


Keep these questions in mind during your next interview. The Project Management role in the right organization can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling. Now you have more tools to get you to the right fit.

Managing Disgruntled Stakeholders: All Feedback is Useful

You can please some of the people all of the time,

you can please all of the people some of the time,

but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

John Lydgate adapted by A. Lincoln


In complex programs and projects (as well as in life in general) it seems that you can’t always satisfy everyone. Even if you put out a great product someone will think it should be more perfect, different, or delivered sooner for less.


If you choose a vendor, won’t like your pick. Some think there is too much communication while others think there is not enough. Some have an old grudge, an ax to grind, and no matter what you do it won’t be enough, they’ll criticize and come up with should haves and could haves that make your decisions look lame. Some like green, others like blue.


The master project manager cares about what the critics have to say but is not driven or upset by it. The PM cares because what critics say may be relevant and useful and/or because others my hear it and it may affect their decisions, opinion of the product, and the PM’s performance. The goal is to satisfy everyone, if possible. And it is not always possible.


As a rule, it is best to hear what is being said about your project, decisions, and results, objectively assess its content and relevance so you can decide what to do about it Note that if you ignore it, you open yourself to the risk of making a disgruntled stakeholder even more angry and dissatisfied.



Criticism is most valuable when it is received before action is taken. If a plan or decision is criticized there is an opportunity to make changes before it is acted upon with minimal cost. After the fact, the information may be useful as a means for learning, but it won’t affect the outcome or may be too costly to use.


In one case a stakeholder, let’s call her Jane, criticized the choice of a contractor based on history with the vendor. The information would have been useful in making the decision to put the vendor on a “short list” after an initial assessment. When the list was made public Jane complained, with disdain for the decision makers – “How could you shortlist them after what they have done?”


Because the final choice had not yet been made Jane’s information could still be used. Had Jane waited until the final choice was made, the information would have been completely useless and no more than a way to make the decision makers look bad or somehow make Jane look good.


Soliciting Feedback

To get timely criticism it must be solicited. This may take the form of focus groups, or asking individuals to provide their opinions so you can use them to make better decisions.

Who do you ask? As usual, it depends on the situation – sometimes you seek out people with expertise in the subject matter, or who have ‘good’ taste, or who will be affected by the decision.


For example, if you are considering design you would want to solicit technical design input from engineers, software experts, etc. If it is about look and feel, then it would be potential users or clients, as well as designers with aesthetic views.


Note that it is not uncommon for project managers and decision makers to avoid getting input from others. They may believe that it overcomplicates the decision making and is costly in the time and effort needed to prepare effective solicitations, sift through, assess, and respond. Avoiding feedback may also be caused by “ego issues” like a sense of superiority or insecurity.


While it is true that extra effort is required, not soliciting feedback opens the risk that stakeholders will be dissatisfied and critical after the decision has been acted upon to create a fait accompli.

Note that we are not implying that a democratic vote should be taken or that opinions received must be used to make the final decision. The project plan and organizational protocols and policies establish the authority of decision makers. What is being implied is that it is wise to solicit input as a means of making better decisions.





Substantive or Empty: Fact Check

The timing of criticism and the solicitation of feedback are important as is considering the accuracy and relevancy of the content.

Was Jane’s experience with the vendor recent or in the far distant past? Had the contractor learned from the experience and changed its methods and personnel to avoid a repeat of poor performance? What were other customers’ experiences? What was Jane’s relationship with the vendor, for example was there a personal issue that tainted Jane’s view? How complicit was Jane in the vendor being unsuccessful?


To make effective use of critical input it is necessary to assess, and fact check it in order to make an informed decision. To simply take it at face value, whether you accept it, reject it, or ignore it, leaves the door open for additional criticism and loses the benefits that may come from the feedback.



There are political issues. Feedback from a senior stakeholder must be addressed in a way that does not create unpleasant ripples. Imagine if Jane was the project’s senior sponsor or a highly placed and influential client. Would questioning his/her/their opinion result in an explosive response or would it be viewed as the normal and wise thing to do? That depends on Jane’s mindset.

Stakeholders are people with biases and beliefs that are often perceived as being “truths.” Questioning their opinion may be taken as a personal affront. So be careful.


Ignore or Respond

If you receive feedback respond. Ignoring it risks upsetting its source and demotivating people from giving feedback in the future.

The response may be a simple statement like “Thank you.  We will take your input and fold it into our decision making.”  This recognizes the effort taken by the source while not committing the decision makers to following the advice offered. You might want to go further and give reasons for not complying or to say how you chose to make a change based on what you have received.


Open To Criticism

If you are open to feedback and criticism, solicit it, and respond with courtesy and respect, you will have fewer disgruntled stakeholders and better decisions.