Friday, October 5, 2012

3 Tips for Embracing a Client-centric Approach to Project Management


Earlier this year, ComputerWeekly.com published the Top 10 trends for Project Management in 2012 authored by LeRoy Ward. The one that got my interest was #9. "Client centric project management can outperform the "triple constraint". The three fundamental constraints in project management, often referred to as the iron triangle or triple constraint are: cost, time, and scope. The success of our projects and our roles as project managers is measured on how effectively these three metrics are managed. Are we capable to deliver the project successfully on budget, on schedule and within scope.

While we are so focused on the triple constraint, we sometimes tend to forget on the value proposition and customer perspective of the project. This can be detrimental to the health and success of a project when our client has a different perspective on the definition of project success. Hence, as we bring 2012 to a close and move forward into 2013, as project and program managers, we must actively listen to how our clients define as a successful project. We must learn how to engage stakeholders in discussions about project value and success, without having to wait until the end of the project to do so.

These three fundamental tips on client-centric approach to project management are a great starting point that will help you achieve consistent success on all your future projects.


client-centric graphic
Original Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalImage.com
Tip 1: Conduct a stakeholder analysis workshop: During the stakeholder analysis phase identify the names of your project stakeholders and their level of influence on your project. Assign either with a influence scale of 1-5 or color coded grid. Make it interactive by asking key questions relating to your project. Example: What does a successful project look like? What does the final outcome look like?

Tip 2: Maintain an updated Stakeholder Register/Journal: Once you have conducted a stakeholder analysis, don't just stop there. Make sure that you keep your stakeholder register updated. Even if you are just engaged in projects longer than six months, the chances are that you might have stakeholders join and leave. It is important that you keep the stakeholder register updated regularly. I maintain an electronic stakeholder register that can be easily viewed by all my project team members easily.

Tip 3: Facilitate a monthly or fortnightly "Listening Session": A listening session is where you invite your stakeholders to listen to their feedback and opinions on the project. If you have a large group of stakeholders, you may consider inviting your key influencers from the stakeholder analysis performed earlier. Listening sessions are a means of gaining valuable insight on the voice of your customer or client regarding your project.  This is not the time to get defensive or come up with answers on the spot, but it is an opportunity for you to listen and become better connected with your stakeholders. This is not a status update meeting.

Being client-centric is a journey and this transformation occurs over a period of time.  As we begin to embrace the client-centric approach on our projects, we shall start to see our customers's satisfaction increase steadily over a period of time.  The triple constraint now has a sibling - voice of the customer or client, and is taking a leap forward as the new quadruple constraint aka the four-legged stool.

I hope you find these 3 Pro Tips for Embracing a Client-centric Approach to Project Management helpful in managing your future projects. Do you currently embrace a client-centric model in your organization for project management?  If so, please share your experience in the comments section below.

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