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You’re Only as Good as Your Last Project

February 25 2010

A Project Manager may have 15 years of experience and have led successful projects around the globe in nearly every industry imaginable.  And to some degree, you can rest on those laurels.  But not really – and certainly not for very long.  In the project management game it’s all about what you’ve done lately and in terms of customer satisfaction, it’s all about who you’ve satisfied lately.  In reality, you’re only as good as your last customer thinks that you are.

So what does that mean?  Well, it means the project manager can never become complacent.  If you just finished a project that had some issues or failed for some reason, you must meet with your team and your customer and understand what went wrong.  If you just finished a successful project, then meet with your team and your customer and figure out what went so right.  Fully understand the customer’s satisfaction level, your executive management’s satisfaction level and understand what those determining factors for satisfaction are.

Stay on top

This probably sounds like a broken record, but there are a number of basic things you need to do to stay on top of your projects as you move along the Project Management Template process:

– Conduct regular status meetings on every project you’re managing.  Don’t just focus on the busy ones – or you’ll lose track of the easy ones!
– Communicate effectively.  Never take things for granted, never assume team members and customers already have a specific piece of information because if it didn’t come from you – the project manager – then you should assume they don’t know it.  Over communicate….they will ultimately appreciate it.
– Do what you say you will do.  Be consistent and be someone who your team members and your customer count on to follow through on actions.
– Follow a process and a schedule.  Try not to manage projects from the hip – even if things seem to be in disarray.  Customers get nervous when there doesn’t seem to be a process or a reason or a regular schedule.  Map out how the project is going to be run and stick to that process.  Customers and team members are much happier with a consistent Project Plan process to follow – they know what to expect next from you.

Lessons learned

Going back to what I touched on earlier – after the project you must identify what worked and what didn’t.  The best way to do that is through lessons learned sessions with your team and the customer.  Sit down, discuss the positives and negatives from the engagement and thoroughly document these things.  The information you can learn from these sessions is truly invaluable as you move on to your next project and it’s invaluable for others in your organization as well.