Which is worse: not delivering what you agreed to within budget, or delivering exactly what the customer wanted and blowing the budget? Or, for a more positive question: do you know how to over deliver without going over on cost? This article by Brad Egeland lists 4 ways that you can begin to give more while staying within the budget:
- Create a short project communication plan
- Deliver a revised budget/forecast weekly
- Conduct brief lessons learned sessions throughout the engagement
- Provide the customer with sample test scenarios and use cases for UAT
See a pattern? Open communication makes up the foundation of each tip provided by Egeland, and as he explains for each point, the centerpiece of the tips should be relatively easy to implement. Oftentimes project managers see lessons learned sessions as tedious and time consuming – but they don’t have to be. By scheduling lessons learned sessions throughout the project lifecycle, a project manager can gain pertinent information without fighting to get resources back from other projects which surely will take up their time at the time of project completion: Lessons learned sessions are important, very helpful, and rarely happen at the end of the project. So, rather than try to set up a big post-project session when everyone is off doing other things, conduct a few throughout the project at major milestones. That way you can keep them to, say, a 30 minute phone call with the customer, learn valuable information that may help you on this current engagement, and have a chance to affect customer satisfaction right now on the current project. It’s a win-win situation. Ideally, you should plan for these in your web-based project management software schedule and make sure you talk about how these will happen when you kick off the project. Short sessions like these will probably only add 3-4 hours total over the course of the entire project. Can you expect your projects to immediately wow your customers if you put these tips in place? Probably not – as a key ingredient in any project is the project team itself. Making sure that your employees are on board with the new, “above and beyond” effort is perhaps just as important as determining what innovations need to occur. Buy in from your team will equal better results and happier customers.