Otherwise known as “taking care of your customers.”
By: Rex Allen PMP CSPM | PSA Project Management Committee Chairman | Operations Manager, Securadyne Systems
Sometimes the smallest details can damage a relationship on a project, taking it from collaborative to disappointing to even resentful. Taking care of your customers, both external and internal, can be as simple as changing happenstance into a process that becomes part of every project.
One area in which I always see room for improvement involves the continuity of project processes and communications when the project manager is unavailable. The reasons for absence typically fall into four categories characterized as planned or unplanned, and temporary or permanent. The easiest to control is the temporary planned absence when a project manager goes on vacation (I heard this happened once!) or is away on business.
Creating a process is key to ensure that the necessary knowledge is transferred regarding any project that has expected or possible activities occurring during the absence. Developing a checklist or form that captures any expected communications, activities, procurement, meetings, etc. will streamline the process and create consistency for both the original project manager and their substitute. When the transfer takes place two key steps must occur:
1) You must get a buy-in from both the project manager and substitute with a signoff, which typically ensures thoroughness.
2) You must be proactive and notify all the relevant stakeholders, particularly the customer contact.
We’ve all received an auto-reply email notifying us that someone is away and offering additional contact information for assistance. Often, that assistance is no more than taking a message, or worse yet; it results in your contact being bothered while on vacation. A fifteen minute meeting prior to the project manager’s departure can cover a lot of ground and reduce the chance of a project becoming derailed and having relationships damaged.
Projects and project managers are process driven. Be an enabler and create a process that implements a proactive approach to project continuity. Your customers, both internal and external, will thank you.