By: Cheryl Wetherington – Executive Director, Implementation & Customer Support
In part one of this two part series I talked about the importance of well-defined project requirements and the critical role scope management plays in any successful project.
What I find unfortunate, however, is scope management is typically viewed as a necessary evil, when it doesn’t have to be that way. Scope management isn’t just important from a budgetary and time perspective, but it also provides an opportunity to ensure continual team and customer engagement. It should be viewed as a means to build better relationships, trust and accountability among stakeholders – all of which go to ensure a project meets its stated goal.
Weekly status meetings are a great way to accomplish this.
I know, I know. The dreaded weekly status meeting – filled with resigned looks, stale pastries and bad coffee. But these meetings are critical and, if done right, can help build team cohesion while also ensuring projects remain within scope.
So how do we achieve this?
First is consistency. Weekly meetings should be held on the same date/time each week and be mandatory for all internal stakeholders. This allows team members to plan for the coming meeting and be prepared to offer valuable input to the project manager. When meetings are scattered or no schedule is adhered to, human nature is to simply shrug it off as a non-priority. As with a project’s scope, maintaining proper meeting and communication cadence is critical.
Second is involvement. Everyone in the project has a voice and that voice must be given a chance to be heard. No suggestion, thought process, change order request, etc. is too trivial in these meetings. Active, even spirited discussions often bring out the best solutions when multiple minds are focused on a topic. Allow your stakeholders to have a sense of involvement in the process; give them a feeling of ownership in the project and you will be amazed at how well your team begins to function.
Third is accountability. It’s one thing to show up and express opinions in a meeting; but it’s quite another to actually own your opinions and be accountable for your area of responsibility. As a team prosecutes a given project towards completion, little modifications, pivots, changes orders, etc. can easily add up and if no one has accountability for making sure these issues are tracked and mitigated, and the overall project scope is adhered to, things can go off-the-rails quickly. If your team realizes all scope changes end up hitting the project as expenses and they know they (as well as you) are accountable for the overall project budget, they are less likely to agree to changes in scope from the customer – however minor.
A project manager is equal parts benevolent counselor, ruthless dictator and co-collaborator. Keeping track of all of the status reports, change orders, etc. is no easy task, but using the process discussed in this series – starting with the project kickoff, understanding the desired outcome, getting agreement on the project’s definition of success and leveraging weekly team meetings in the right manner – a project’s probability of success increases exponentially. As does the project manager’s quality of life...
Readers – what are your thoughts? How are you viewed when managing project scope?