Since starting at Champ Internet Solutions in late summer of 2012, I’ve learned more than a few project management tips and tricks in addition to the standard deliverables process when working with clients. I’ve come to learn the necessity of maintaining a constant stream of communication with the client and internal team, the value of first setting and then managing expectations through proper project planning, and more importantly, I’ve learned that I’ve still got a lot to learn! These are a few tips that have become necessary successfully managing my own project management process:
Maintain Constant Contact
Know Your Client and Your Team
Manage Client Expectations
Pass it on: share the positive feedback
The core day-to-day functions of a project manager rely more on constant communication than anything else. In order to effectively and efficiently communicate client needs to the design and development team, and deliver internal efforts back over to the client, a PM must remain transparent, absorbing ad hoc client requests and managing internal time restraints and pushback. Communication between a client and project manager starts from Day 1 of the project or even beforehand. Plan your points of contact before you settle into a routine dictated entirely by the client. Setting up response time standards, maintaining weekly status updates, and opening up a constant dialogue will help things run smoothly throughout the remainder of the relationship. By being readily available, and more importantly, readily approachable, the PM can create an environment in which the client is comfortable enough to ask, learn and trust your team (with more projects and add-ons in the future).
Getting to know the internal Champ Internet design and development team as well as the wide variety of clients coming into Champ is one of the more rewarding aspects of my role as a project manager. As a project manager, it’s invaluable to not only know the client’s needs and expectations, but also the level of communication they expect, and the way in which they like deliverables presented to them. However, it’s only possible to strike the right balance between client and company when the project manager is also well versed in the capabilities, schedules, strengths and challenges for internal team members.
Setting and managing client expectations are imperative not only during the kick off phase, but throughout the entire project cycle. Remember, client expectations extend to more areas than simply end-all-be-all deadlines. Set standards for workflow items like the average time you allow yourself to respond to an email, or the way in which ad hoc or out of scope requests are submitted and budgeted. Setting client expectations now will clear up any confusion down the road as to who’s promised what and when.
No project runs perfectly, and chances are, you’ll hit some speed bumps along the road to final approval with any given client or project. While it’s the PM’s job to closely manage the internal team tasks, delivery deadlines, and the like, it’s also important for a PM to recognize hard work from team members, project milestones as they’re accomplished, and the innovative new ideas created to meet your client’s needs. Send kudos along with your internal feedback, and be sure to pass along good vibes when a client vocalizes their happiness with a particular aspect of a project. As a project manager, you have direct contact with both the clients and the team. Remember ‘Pass It On’: share positive feedback from clients with your team and be sure to communicate the thought behind certain design strategies when delivering an item to your client.