Client Project Management – Lessons From The Field

Information and Knowledge Management Projects are 30% technology implementation, 70% people, process and changes to ways of working. Organisations exploring the suite of collaboration tools provided by Microsoft through M365 for the Modern Workplace, require a project manager experienced in adapting traditional project management into the new era.

Have your projects struggled to get to grips with the new normal? Come with me as I explore some food for thought based on my own lessons working at Infotechtion, to help ensure your project’s success.

Strong Client Relationships

Project management comes with challenges; however, when we are dealing with client facing projects is often with people we have recently met. The first step to overcome this hurdle is to establish a solid working relationship with all the stakeholders. Try to learn the client’s background and maintain frequent customer success meetings with key people to build a bond with each other to maintain continuity.

Expectation Management

Laying out clear expectations from the start of the project is key to avoiding misunderstandings and to mitigating the risk of scope creep. Your first reference point will be a carefully formulated statement of work. The sales team already laid the foundation for main requirements and the key project objectives. Your job is to make sure that everyone is on the same page from the very beginning. Always be ready to listen to your clients’ expectations and arm yourself with plenty of patience. There will be times when you can hear your own heartbeats; take a deep breath and relax. Understand where the client is coming from and engage in open dialogue.


Communication

Select a single platform, preferably under your organisation’s control, for day-to-day management and communication. Forcing yourself to conduct communications under the same platform leads to transparency.It can be very frustrating and time consuming having to switch between multiple tools and platforms to complete everyday tasks. Having a common working ground will make you more productive and help you concentrate on more value-added tasks.

Delivery

We often see clients who want to be in control of every aspect of the project or want to make sure the results of the project are delivered to perfection. Both types of behaviour can send your project off on the wrong track. It is very important to set regular intervals to review the project’s progress by setting goals and targets. For example, soliciting effective feedback at the end of major milestones can keep you on point.


Change Management.

Business change is an essential component of successful delivery, especially when transitioning to new ways of working. Your project plan should include adoption activities with a focus on developing an understanding of the change and impact on the organisation. Formulate an action plan for adopting the change over time. In most organisational changes, it is not the introduction of a new platform, product or service that determines the success or failure of the implementation, but the people who are affected by the change. Managing good communication with stakeholders and end users before, during and after the implementation is crucial for long lasting success.


Honesty nManaging client relationships can be challenging. Always try to be as honest as possible when delivering a project – with yourself, as well as with the client. When dealing with a challenge, approach the client, discuss risks, roadblocks, and possible solutions, and work to meet client expectations, ensuring favourable solutions work for both sides.

Bear in mind that you are not required to have an answer for every question. Don’t be afraid to tell the client you need to reach out to a better-informed colleague. In this way you can provide a response that is fit for purpose, and you will learn something new. Next time you come across the same question you are better prepared to answer straight away and with more confidence.

Lastly, it is not uncommon for clients to make extra requests. When faced with this situation, don’t wait until the eleventh hour to reject the client’s request. The best approach is to find out exactly what the new requirement entails and assess the situation. Appreciate the client suggestions and explain politely if you feel that an alternative solution may get better results. Workout an explicit understanding and agreement between the client and your management chain.

Conclusion

In conclusion, all you need for an effective project is to:

  • know yourself,
  • know the requirements,
  • know the customer,
  • review often and
  • be honest.

For some practical tips on getting started with an Information Governance Project, see our blog on ,Implementing M365 Information Governance in your organisation.

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