Rockin’ Relationships: People ARE the Project

Logistics planning to enable project relationships – practical directives from an industry veteran.

Part One: Love Your Logistics

At the end of the day, implementation projects end up being about people—their skills, styles, and investment in the project and the project’s success.

As you may well imagine, there are quite a few ways to set up effective relationships. For me, these fall into three categories: Project documentation; communication: and logistics. And whether I am working on an overseas project or around the Midwest, logistical considerations sometimes loom the largest in starting off a project on the right foot.

In the other two sections of this “Rockin’ Relationships” blog series, we’ll discuss documentation strategies and communications best practices. We’ll obviously have some overlap in these areas. But in the meantime, we’ll concentrate on logistics, using the five ”W’s” and the one “H” of journalistic renown.

Project management logistics

Who? It’s easier to retain control of a project when specific people become associated with each project deliverable. I also recommend pairing these individuals on-site with a corresponding member(s) of the consulting team. It enables them to cultivate a level of comfort with one another that can lead to open lines of communication – discussions that send so-so projects into the stratosphere.

What? The success of any project depends on how task-oriented its team members are. We’ll talk more during the rest of the series about documenting these tasks, but, logistically speaking, this question has to do with the nuts-and-bolts of the project: What do our teams need to succeed? These items range from specialized laptops to on-site building access cards.

When? Make sure your repository includes timelines for when certain members of the consulting group will be on site. Also get the few selected regularly scheduled meetings on the calendar right away and require that people rearrange schedules to accommodate them. Holding all team members even to an initial, high level timeline will begin to drive the project toward on-time delivery. We’re talking about production software here, so of course, on-time remains a pressing concern for our industry. Don’t let your project be any different.

Where? Make sure the consulting team has a workspace and the proper introductions to the key people responsible for the project. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I have seen consulting teams literally headquartered in a closet, waiting for building or server access for weeks. As you may imagine, this doesn’t help with the project budget.

Why? Logistically speaking, taking the time to explain to members not only what you will be doing but why you have done it this way will help you obtain buy-in—the project manager’s most precious commodity of all. The more people understand the project priorities, the more supportive teams will be later in the process.

How? Crafting a solid Statement of Work document will help you ensure that the people involved with each phase of the project are clear on scope. Approach it like a lawyer would, even perhaps before a lawyer reviews the document. If the Statement of Work has already been established when you join a project, read it through enough times to be able to explain it to someone else at both a high and detailed level. If you have questions, ask your leadership team in case it leads to a potential scope loophole later on. Show the team you have a clean grasp of scope and they’ll feel secure that you know how to get everything done, on time, and with the right resources.

These are just a few of my takeaways from being on my own project management journey. I also urge you to send me some of your own project logistical tips; or send comments or questions about what you’ve read here. I can easily tailor future blogs to address them and would much prefer these pages to reflect a conversation rather than a lecture!

If you are responsible for implementations from a client standpoint or even in another industry or for another vendor, I’d like to invite you to share your experiences, as well. We’ll continue our discussion about managing relationships effectively in the next two blogs. Until then, keep those implementations rockin’!

– Sarah Huhner

6.0-Sarah                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sarah takes a customer-focused and results-driven approach to project management and demand-driven manufacturing systems implementation. With hundreds of projects under her belt, Sarah is fearless when it comes to challenging the status quo and delving into the details to ensure an optimal user experience. As such, her posts reflect tips and best practice advice for managing people and processes through projects – and getting the most out of your systems.