Monday, February 07, 2011

If the end goals are blurry or not specified, then they will never be attainable.

Seeing (Imagining, forecasting within boundary) is what we achieve in long run.

Somehow clients always seem to expect more than we are prepared to deliver. This expectation gap is more the result of a failure to communicate than it is of anything else, and this lack of communication starts at the beginning of a project and extends all the way to the end. This definitely does not have to be the case. It is the project manager’s job to utilize effective and efficient communication to sort out customers needs and to appropriately set customer expectations and team expectations early in the project to ensure the end goals are correct and attainable. If the end goals are blurry or not specified, then they will never be attainable.

Sorting Wants versus Needs
The root cause of many problems that come up in the course of a project originate in a disconnect between what the client says they want and what they really need. The disconnect may come about because the client is swept up in a euphoria over the technology and is so enamored with what they see for potential technologies and solutions that they have convinced themselves they have to have it without any further thought of exactly what it is they really need.
The disconnect can also come about because the client does not really know what they need. It is the job of the project manager and team to ask the right questions and extract the needs out from behind the wants. If there is any reason to believe that what the client says they want is different from what they need, the project manager has the responsibility of sifting and sorting this out ASAP. It would be a mistake to proceed without having the assurance that wants and needs are in alignment. You don’t want to start the project not knowing that the solution is in fact what will satisfy the client. The project Statement of Work, or SOW, developed early in the discussion phases of the project will begin to lay this foundation for the project team but may not fully sort out the customer needs from wants.
Problems with listening and communication
If I had to pick one area where most projects run into trouble, I would pick the very beginning. For some reason, people have a difficult time understanding what they are saying to one another. How often do you find yourself thinking about what you are going to say while the other party is talking? If you are going to be a successful project manager, you must stop and listen. Proactive thinking and planning is great – but not at the expense of hearing what the customer is expressing early in the project planning process. An essential skill that project managers need to cultivate is good listening skills.

Deliver on the right criteria
Through proper, efficient, and effective communication, the project team should be able to become aware of what it is exactly that the customer needs…rather than wants. It may be difficult to break through the barriers that are hiding these true customer needs and even harder to convince the customer that what they say they want isn’t exactly what they are indicating they need.
The thing to remember – and to remind the customer of – is that you have the team of implementation experts and the customer came to you with the project. It is your job to deliver the right project to them and a solution that their end users can actually use. You’ll need to convince them that your proposed solution is actually what they need, though it may be contradicting what they say they want.

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