Communicating Is Key
From Project Manager 97Things
Communicating Is Key
Gennady Mironov, CPM Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The most critical knowledge the Project Manager in any industry should have is how to be a good communicator. The person may have many different certifications and a list of titles and accreditations after his/her name, but without the basic knowledge of how to collaborate with others, the work of the project cannot be accomplished properly.
I strongly believe that when starting a new project, the good project manager should meet in person with all of the stakeholders. Especially, the client. The PM should introduce himself/herself, discuss the project goals and all the critical issues. If the stakeholders, client and even the project team are not located on different continents, meeting in person should not be a big problem, even during an economic recession.
We say in Russia: “It’s better to see it one time than to hear it hundred times”. From my own project management experience working on multi-million dollar projects, I’ve found I could easily solve problems with my clients within half a day by visiting them in person.
On one project, we had a problem when our contractor was delaying the project schedule by not supplying us with the required wireless base station. The problem was the contractor had outsourced this part of the project to its own subcontractor, who was late with the power supply systems. Although we spent weeks of calling and sending numerous e-mails back and fourth, we could not solve this problem.
Finally, I chose to meet personally with our contractor, explained the details of the issue, offer some possible solution(s), and we were able to get our needed equipment. In most cases, the customer is on your side and ready to support you if you are willing to listen and help come up with a reasonable solution.
Another time, one of our clients insisted on a very short project schedule. He wanted to shorten the production cycle of the equipment at the end of the year, when all the factories were working at 100% capacity to close as many purchase orders as possible. We could not accept this because it was twice as short as the standard project period.
Again, I organized a three-party meeting between our company, the client, and the vendor. We freely proposed the shortest, realistic schedule, and explained in detail why we couldn’t shorten it more. After finishing a specially organized inventory to discover the number of items needed for the project we already had in stock, we took some risk and accepted the customer’s order without even receiving the order confirmation from him.
We closed the project successfully, two days ahead of that very tighten schedule. Our client was very happy, and at the beginning of the new year offered us another unexpected project for another $2 million. We met Schedule, Scope, Budget and Quality requirements, and in this case earned extra profit for the organization as a result of the project.
Software projects also rest on person to person communication.