Having the right project visibility is a critical factor for project success. Remember the fact that there are desired outcomes of business value that got the project sponsored in the first place.
But more often than not, projects fail all around us. And there can be a zillion reasons for your project’s failure and not gaining enough attention within the organization is a major contributor to that list.
Projects and their success are dependent on numerous factors right from stakeholder engagement, budget, resources, company’s strategy and vision to market conditions and competition.
Good thing is, you have some control over some of them and exercising that control in a meaningful manner can contribute a lot towards your project success.
Why do we want our projects to gain more and more visibility?
Success of our endeavors matters to us the most and if you are a PM it is indeed crucial for you to add more and more successful projects to the kitty.
Running projects is a team game. It takes more than a PM, a handful of resources and a project management software to generate desired business outcomes from a project.
For starters, let us identify the key contributors to your project.
- The business (customer or your own organization)
- Sponsors & Executive team
- Project Team (PMO, Resource Manager, Teams)
- The impacted parties (maybe a department, a specific business function or the entire company)
If anyone of the above contributors are not engaged rightly, the project will fetch less than desired outcomes.
As a result, everything concerning the specific project goes for a toss right from funding to resource allocation to the extent of putting it into an icebox.
Scary! Isn’t it? I for sure do not want to be leading a project like this.
So how do we get the right traction for our project?
Send a “Clear Message”
When you are in charge of a project make sure that all contributors understand the purpose in certain terms. Kill the anxiety!
Explain the WIFM as distinctly as possible. Prepare a proper plan on how you wish to educate and disseminate this vital information to your audience.
Make sure all impacted parties understand the benefits of this undertaking and how it is going to help them. It may be an HR initiative, a new reskill and upskill program, a major assignment or an elite client that will work wonders for the company and everyone associated with it.
Share all tangible and intangible benefits that they stand to gain from this initiative.
Overall, the idea is to ensure that the right teams are excited and understand the true value of the project.
As a result, teams would be more forthcoming with their ideas and be willing to help even if it falls beyond their role. This makes it easy to get the best possible resources deployed to the project.
Kick-Off on the Right Note
Project Kick-offs are usually deemed to be a boring affair. You would be surprised how a large number of PMs do not accord the right importance to the kick-off meetings.
Kick-offs are an integral part of your projects.
All your sponsors and executives must be a part of it and they expect a proper overview of how their funds would be spent, who all will be a part of the project, for how long and what will be delivered in specific terms.
More importantly, your project teams look up to these meetings to get clarity on their roles and responsibilities and how well they will be allowed to utilize their skills and upgrade them at the same time.
This is whereas a PM you plant the seeds of motivation, team spirit, and alignment to the common goal.
Invite as many questions as possible once you have shared the project’s vision and go-forward strategy.
Make sincere efforts to provide all answers to your project team with as much clarity as possible.
This will generate more awareness and much-needed confidence in the initiative.
Additionally, resources would be inclined to shape up the required skills and be war-ready!
Communicate at all Levels
No matter the type or size of the project, meaningful communication is a must.
Smart PMs spend quality time in defining their project communication plans.
They understand and identify the information/reporting needs of their stakeholders and make it the center of their plan.
You may have executives who are numbers freak and some that prefer colors and graphs.
Enterprise project management software comes to your rescue as you can pull out all metrics you need along with the various charts and trend graphs.
Share quick wins, issues, risks and any item that your stakeholders must know.
Make the right noises at the right time. This is important to get the right help at the right time.
Also, sharing the true and most current state of affairs helps you keep your stakeholders engaged. Similarly, the project teams get to see the value their work delivered or how far do they lag from the original course.
The key hallmarks of a great communication plan are:
- Having a centralized place for all project information
- Granting rights to all the stakeholders on a need to know basis
- Defining the mode of communication (email, reports, chat, status meetings, etc.)
- Setting the right frequency so that all know which information to expect when
Most of us fail to do this. And this is why agile methodology is so helpful.
Constant feedback helps you keep your customers, sponsors as well as your teams on their toes. They have their skin in the game and it makes them want to win.
Whether it is a new product, service offering or an internal initiative bake in an easy to share feedback system in place.
Where needed, keep the feedback anonymous. The right constructive feedback goes a long way in making the project a great success.
Run a simple quiz, surveys, arrange for feedback meetings, product reviews based on your project and audience’s demands.
For one, it inspires people to contribute, share their opinions and suggestions. Second, you generate more awareness and involvement from a larger audience.
Also, it helps you to identify your detractors and presents an opportunity to make them your change agents
It helps you take preventive measures proactively and visibility of your blind spots too.
Either way, you stand to gain.
Share the Success Story
It is important that important milestones are celebrated and results shared with all involved and impacted. It helps you stay fresh in their memory and builds the momentum for the home run.
More importantly, nothing works like visible progress. It is your opportunity to keep sharing your end goal, how close are you to it and how the end goal would look like.
These milestones are your trailers. If rightly done, you can generate enough interest to maybe jack up the priority or the funding to expedite project completion for e.g.
Present relevant metrics in terms of the impact made by the completed milestone and how it rolls up to the bigger picture.
Share your failures too. Present your lessons learned from each completed milestone and measures taken to turn them around.
It increases your stakeholders’ confidence and you build their trust further.
Moreover, it is of immense help to your organization as there might be other departments and teams who might have faced the same hurdles as you.
And lastly, you will get the right help and direction if stuck. Remember this is your platform to showcase the value and benefits that the project would deliver when completed.
So leave no stones unturned to share your story!
We need to understand that just focusing on project execution isn’t enough. You might be meeting the deadlines and delivering as required, but if the right people aren’t met aware you are doing more harm than good.
Visibility is a must! No one likes to be in the dark as it generates anxiety and concerns about the project’s success.
Hence make sure that as a PM all your stakeholders are aware of:
- the project goal, value, and benefits in detail
- the expected cost and overall expenditure the project may ensue
- consistent project progress and status
- their roles and responsibilities clearly
- the right communication channels and frequency
- action plan around the feedback received
- open issues, risks, delays, cost overruns instantly
- how the progress aligns with the end objective
When you’ve hit the right cords expect greater participation and involvement from the decision-makers and team alike as they have the maximum say over the project.
Secondly, they help you take the project to the masses which is critical to realizing the promised benefits at the end!
So, by all means, act as a change agent, turn your detractors into promoters and share your milestones periodically to keep all aligned to the overall project vision.