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integration and implementation of technology-focused business solutions

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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