Sense of team is important on IT systems projects. In Part 1 and Part 2, I shared several ideas that help develop a strong working relationship between the consulting firm’s IT staff (or similarly, an organization’s internal IT staff) and the client’s end-users. When that relationship and bond of trust is developed early, it carries on throughout the project to successful system implementation.
In this post, I conclude with several additional tips and techniques that I have personally used to continue nurturing that sense of team and building towards a stronger probability of success:
- Give credit where credit is due. If a member of your team has performed above and beyond the expected contribution, praise him or her publicly – with the client staff in attendance. Similarly, if a member of the client staff has contributed beyond expectation, praise him or her publicly – with your team in attendance.
- Co-locate the IT and business teams if at all possible. Put your analysts and the client’s analysts in close proximity for easy conversation. (Yes, you can still have your private team meetings out of the hearing of the client staff. That’s what conference rooms are for.) Do whatever you can to keep the communication flowing on a minute-by-minute basis, as this will help project progress immensely. One of the greatest compliments that I ever received as a Project Manager was from one of the project’s sponsors whose executive were visiting our project site. As he surveyed the floor where the teams were interacting, the executive sponsor asked me, “So, which are your staff, and which belong to [the business]?” Now that’s a working team!
- Co-locating IT and business facilitates transparency. But the idea of transparency requires its own bullet point as a reminder of its importance. Be transparent at all times. If you don’t know something, say so. If you’ve made a mistake, don’t cover it up. Confess the error immediately and let the client help you to correct it. Nothing says teamwork like a little vulnerability and a lot of transparency.
- If you see a member of your client’s staff struggling, offer as much assistance as possible. The valuable contribution of a valuable end-user is required for a project to succeed; and offering assistance to that client team member will always be remembered. At the same time, if in your estimation that staff member will not ever be able to be a strong contributor, feel free to approach the client Project Manager to have him or her quietly reassigned.
- Don’t be afraid to make friends. Friends help friends succeed. However, at the same time, maintain a professional distance on the project.
And when the project is complete, stay in touch. I still count as some of my favorite people in the world client staff that I befriended on projects over 20 years ago! We still stay in touch.
So many project managers believe that if they are good at the “arts and charts”, checking the boxes, and providing status reports that they are managing the project well. But when they truly apply the human aspects to their management processes, they truly are managing well.
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