Archive for June, 2011

Customer engagement: 3 core elements

“Success in projects is as much an attribute of ‘Intuitive’ action, as is ‘plan’ rendition” – Rajneesh

Thoughts played out herein:

Subject: The despair of Project management professionals in achieving the ever eluding ‘Customer Delight!’ is not a shy fact. It shows up way too often. Quite bold, not so beautiful!

Apart from the plethora of theories that rightly govern customer management principles, the following 3 fundamental efforts should fetch you ‘customer delight’ more often than not.

  1. The Obvious – KNOW the customer need: Quite obvious? Hang in there. Fair statement, but it really has to begin here, hence stating the obvious for that quick warm-up! This effort should include knowing – All of the ‘stated needs’ as signed, agreed and promised. Key elements: Scope, Service level agreements, Delivery standards, Contractual obligations in toto.
  2. The Subtle – Know MORE of the customer: Catch all of the ‘subtle hints’ generously thrown at you while the project gets underway as it reaches a steady-state. Key elements: Customer survey outcomes, Issue escalation, Performance feedback.
  3. The Unstated – Know EVEN MORE of ‘your’ customer: Understanding all of the unstated needs! Are we being too philosophical? PROBABLY NOT! The art of getting to this (in my view, the most potential ‘differentiator’ for a business) is the ability and patience of the Project Manager (/Business Manager) to put oneself into the Customer shoes’. Read on…

Get on the other side of the table and think the customer’s mind. Now, paint the picture you would have wanted to see! The skeptic in us might say “Would this special effort make business sense, eventually?”. The answer is an emphatic ‘Yes!‘. Several outperforming Project Managers in the field out there will vouch for this.

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June 20, 2011 at 12:38 PM Leave a comment

Project Management: The emotional ‘spend’ – Organizational dilemmas

Counter emotional erosion through effective strategy

The emotional ‘spend’ of your work force is neither quantified nor contracted.  Yet, it is an automatic consequence of any project and customer engagement and is becoming increasingly relevant to the ‘talent management’ paradigm.

Backdrop: The contemporary business environment is directing most industries into a ‘project centric’ set-up. Necessarily so!  What this entails is a play-field that demands incessant effort from project teams to achieve timelines, targets, quality expectations and the not-so-subtle customer requirements!

Core aspect: The uncanny ability of most projects to cause ‘Emotional Erosion‘ of teams, is an element of business that needs to be ‘realised’; ‘recognized’ and ‘addressed’.  ‘Emotional Erosion‘ – used here in connotation to ‘the state-of -mind of project teams who reel under project delivery pressure’.

Not for a moment is this suggestive of being negative, bad or avoidable.  The mere reiteration here is on an organizations’ deliberation to acknowledge and embrace these facts, just enough to result in a strategy around ’emotional erosion’ of teams.

3 top factors that contribute to ’emotional erosion’ of project work force:

  1. Incessant exposure of teams to the same project which has invariably demonstrated an intense delivery demand.
  2. Lack of visible and tangible acknowledgement of all the ‘good work’ (good=has met all expectations!).
  3. The diminishing hope that the assignment will ever change for the project team.
4 Primary things the organization could do to counter:
  1. Identify and rate the ‘intensity’ of projects and know these by-heart. Called ‘The Everests!’ for purposes of reference in this discussion.
  2. Rotate project assignments for staff scaling ‘The Everests’ to allow respite to ‘roles’ which are vulnerable to ’emotional erosion’
  3. Incentivize staff working on ‘The Everests’, distinctly, generously and visibly.
  4. Build a framework where staff see ‘winds of change’ through this policy of ‘project role rotations’, thus offering an avenue they may look up to.
P.S: Generic guidance to the above thoughts:
Period to consider before ‘project role rotations’ – 24 to 36 months  |  Not all roles require a rotation. Only roles that are closest to the ‘hearth’!  |  The notion of losing project knowledge and customer insight should best be countered by effective ‘knowledge management systems’.

June 10, 2011 at 4:31 AM 2 comments


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