Thursday, February 28, 2008

Brand building by Project Manager

For my bread and butter, I remain a back-room person managing and delivering projects. This also helps my bank to recover their monthly EMI's promptly.

I never consider myself to be smart or creative or savvy of being on field. Hence sales and marketing will always remain an envy for me.

As said in my last post The best Marketing Tool - Projects the closest I can match my smarter friends in sales and marketing teams is to execute and deliver projects with "comfort" factor built in.

So how can project managers build brands.
1. Be the note taker.
  • Listen, Ask, Clarify and Summarize.
  • Document the meeting and share it with the customer.
2. Do not talk to customers about "a" solution. Engage a discussion.
  • Allow customers to "feel good" of having found their solution with you.
  • Toss up alternatives, to ensure that the "found solution" is the best possible solution with given cost, schedule and quality.
  • Provide for "hooks" that can be plugged in later if desired.
  • Document the meeting and share it with the customer.
3. Be the organizer
  • Ensure that clients and your team do their jobs with minimum efforts. This makes you the owner of taking care of managing calendar of all people involved, setting expectations, documenting facts, collecting feedback, preparing reports for clients and teams.
  • Document the schedule, expectations, feedback, reports and share it with the customer.
4. Be a domain expert: Project Management is about control of schedule, cost (effort) and resources for your employer. Project Management for your customer is to deliver on solution(resources), their relevance (schedule) and the suitability for their business(cost). This requires project managers to be domain experts in the field and sensitive towards business users.

While lot of project managers rise from programmer level or directly come from management institutes, project managers to build brands must be convinced enough of the delivery and solution themselves. This means that there needs to be a say of the PM in the overall solution. This is important to establish the credibility. Through project deliveries, project teams speak their
  • knowledge of the business solution
  • process of delivery together with
  • the power of the technology put to work.
Ensuring that the right mix of above 3 is effective and convincing, they must be tied together to coexist in Process Framework.

Process Framework is the tool of project managers to create their service brand. The tool ensures delivery of chosen solution through appropriate blend of technology, benchmarked best patterns, and business relevance of solution that satisfies the employer and customer.

5. Be Real if not Honest: While honesty is not always smart thing to do in business ( I cant say we are running 100% utilization and hence need time), but being real is a cardinal rule not to be missed (I need to say that the Project desires n number of resources who can deliver it in a planned time. Hence the delivery date will be dd.mmm.yyyy).

I have hurt and been hurt when I try to shield the reality or postponed the announcement of a bad news. Projects are open, transparent and deliveries reveal the "real story". Keeping "Classified, top secret" cabinets in projects do not deliver value and diminish the value of team efforts.

6. Practice "Cost-Value" trade off: Every marketing effort requires a budget(cost) and value is measured in capture of market share.

Projects too start with fixed account and value is to retain the customer's mind share for the service rendered. Hence cost-value trade off must be the guiding principle to enable conscious decisions about change requests, feature enhancements, business impacts, schedule changes.

Knowledge of cost-value trade off is essential to deploy the best candidates from available pool for the job and complete it at right time for bigger gains from the fixed account.

You may invest more cost in the first project, but the order value of subsequent projects would cover the additional cost investment.

Have you created a brand with your project ?

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