integration and implementation of technology-focused business solutions

August 2017

Defining success with the cast of characters

August 15th, 2017

In our previous blog, we discussed the cast of characters typically seen on an IT project. Knowing who they are and what they value helps project managers understand their varied perspectives.

However, understanding is just one part of the equation. The goal is a completed project that all team members identify as being successful.

But, how do you define success with these different personalities?

Set Expectations

Chances are, the cast of characters have differing expectations. It's important to know what they are and how they fit within the project.

Before the project begins, sit down with people individually and ask:

  • What do you hope this project accomplishes?
  • What are your expectations involving project milestones?
  • When will you know the project is successful?

As they answer these questions, use the time to discuss the overall expectations of the business and project managers. Find common themes between their expectations and others. Ask for their help in reaching those goals.

Identify the Points of Pain

Figure out the biggest pains or problems and make them milestones. Those have meaning. One person may have different pains than others. So, milestones may be created for individuals or departments.

When the milestones are met, celebrate with them and help the rest of the company see the value. Often, people in an organization don't recognize how wins in other departments directly impact their work as well.

An example of this is implementation of HR software that speeds up the processing of applicants in a manufacturing company. Obviously, the software directly helps the HR department with efficiency of hiring. However, the impact of being able to add new team members faster benefits the entire company and should be recognized.

Capture Mind Share

Many people do their best thinking and problem solving away from meetings. Yet, it's essential that their ideas are expressed and shared. It helps people feel engaged and heard, and it creates a flow of communication to keep the project running efficiently.

Here are a few creative ways to capture mind share from the entire team.

Running white board

Designate a large white board for this. Ask team members to write down any ideas, issues, or suggestions throughout the week. Go over the information on the white board at each project meeting.

Cross-functional team lunch

Often, people hang out with the same group of people every day. Change things up by organizing lunches for small groups from various departments. Ask them to discuss a specific aspect of the project in which they have visibility. Have them report out on that discussion at the next project meeting.

Understanding that an IT software project is about more than the mechanics is essential. Building a relationship of trust with all people involved is every bit as important, because success is defined by the people impacted.

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Cast of characters during an IT software project

August 1st, 2017

Every project is different and so are the individuals involved. From large companies to small organizations, diverse IT needs directly impact day-to-day operations.

Before launching an IT software project, it’s essential to understand more than the mechanics. Start dates and end dates are important, but the true key to success rarely lies in the metrics.

The people who are impacted by the change are the ones who define success. So, understanding the people involved, their roles, and their expectations should be the highest priority.

Let’s meet the cast of characters you’re likely to see during an IT project.

The Idealist

Though it’s nice to have optimists and dreamers on the team, these folks can be a challenge of their own.

The idealist wants the project to go smoothly. They don’t want to deal with delays or roadblocks. In fact, sometimes it’s easier for them to hear what they want to hear than deal with reality.

Working with the idealist requires a bit of mining for information prior to the start of a project. Ask questions like:

  • What IT projects have impacted you in the past?
  • What were some problems with those projects?
  • How did you work through those?

The answers to those questions should give clues to how involved they were with past projects, as well as how involved they might be during the current one.

The Naysayer

Just as every cloud has a silver lining to the idealist, every cloud holds a thunderstorm to the naysayer. This person can spot the roadblocks before others see them. They are quick to point out problems with possible solutions as well.

This is also the person who may take every project delay as a sign that a project is doomed.
Though dealing with a naysayer may seem taxing, their perspective can be helpful. Be careful of having too many naysayers though, as they feed off each other’s negativity.

The Apathetic

This personality may be the most difficult, especially in an environment where every team member has the potential to add value. Their lack of engagement can create moral issues as well as limit the scope of the project.

To reengage the apathetic person, try to discover what they value. What are the things they find meaningful? Asking them to talk about a previous successful project they were a part of is a great way to get them talking. Then ask, “What made that project successful?”

This process doesn’t have to be boring or take a lot of people’s time. Everyone has their daily tasks to complete along with new responsibilities involving the project, so it’s important to make it as efficient as possible.

But, taking the time to create a plan and cultivate buy in can help put their minds at ease. Change in culture and processes has a huge impact on an organization and the people who work there. Take time to understand the cast of characters.

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