All projects require a project management discipline to bring projects in on time, within scope, and on budget. But it isn’t just the “science” side of project management that needs to be perfected; it is also the “art”. As a Consultant II at a business technology consulting firm, I have recently had the opportunity to work on a few key projects. Reflecting back on one of my recent projects, I reviewed the challenges I faced and what I specifically did to successfully complete my projects.
I have learned that managing projects requires a team-based methodology. The “art” of project management involves the “people-side”. The following 5 recommendations may seem basic but from my perspective, they are critical tools to help effectively manage projects from the often overlooked “art” perspective.
Consulting has the potential to become a challenge in and of itself. Oftentimes the employees of the client may fear that consultants put their jobs in jeopardy. This may create tension or uneasiness. It requires a skilled professional to create an open line of communication among all team members. For example, one of our senior consultants shared her view that it took perseverance, patience, and hard work to make the team understand that we’re there to help them improve their work processes. If we are successful, this benefits their team and the company. Assuring the team that we are there to build trust and create harmony is key.
Establishing a Communication Path
No two clients are alike. So figuring out what works takes effort and is an integral part to relationship building. It should not be overlooked. Since the team, in our previous example, was geographically dispersed, reaching out via phone communication became challenging. Slowly the team came to understand that email communication was a much more efficient way to close loose ends. Paying attention and utilizing the client’s internal lingo was also an effective way to build rapport. Team members felt that learning and using the client’s lingo had a large effect on the way the team responded.
As stated above, consultants are placed on a project to assist the client. By sharing our wealth of knowledge and utilizing our skills, we create a reputable name for our company. Our goal is to leave the client in a better position than when we started.
Keeping an Open Mind
A blog post by the Harvard Business Review stated that, “when two smart people vehemently disagree, the answer is almost never to fight it out until one idea prevails, but rather to vigilantly search for a third, better way.” Keeping an open mind to learn and improve not only helps grow our own competencies but also allows the client to leverage the relationship and invest more in us.
When team members work on different tasks, it is very easy to lose focus of the overall goal. Through effective team work, strategy, and project management skills, the team learns to prioritize its tasks and work together so that the end result is success.
I found taking a look back at past projects and evaluating the steps which led to success has been helpful. By reviewing challenges, I am able to plan better for the next project. Sometimes we get stuck in the small details but by allowing yourself to step back and look at the big picture, you may find the keys to success can be simpler than you may think.
A Challenge to You
Take a moment to review one of your past projects. What have you learned? What are your areas of strength and weakness? Share your tips by commenting.