Engagement Throughout Execution

Projects that reach across an enterprise into multiple departments require a great deal of upfront planning followed by appropriate, long-term communication. We are all familiar with this fundamental project management approach.

However, truly successful projects go above and beyond the prescribed status calls, deliverable reviews, testing and deployment. At their heart is client engagement. Ultimately, engaged clients can reduce overall project risk by taking ownership, providing real-time feedback during project execution and aligning the final product with their organization’s true needs.

As consultants and trusted advisors, we owe it to our clients to give due diligence to this critical aspect of the planning process. Communicating the need for clients’ expertise in operations, technical subject matter and overall strategy—for the duration of the project—can sometimes fall short, and a more formal approach is required.

Often clients acknowledge the need for their input, but until real time commitments are defined and allocated in resource plans, the need is difficult to quantify. Complex technology implementations can require a substantial amount of client time to help consultants navigate their architecture, understand business processes and align with any roadmaps the clients may have in place.

Developing needed roles and responsibilities in tandem with clients can be eye opening. This exercise can uncover commitments that organizations may not be prepared for, help lay out anticipated demand and highlight the need for a dedicated client project delivery team.

In the end, standing up this dedicated team, whether for administrative roles, technical support or a PMO, helps appropriate resources and minimize impact on day-to-day operations.

Coordination with this group throughout the project fosters a healthy team environment and helps the client take direct ownership of the project. Empowered clients commit to success early, offer more insightful feedback to improve quality and facilitate the knowledge transfer that will support continuous improvement long after the project concludes.

You’ll need to put in some work to develop resource plans that define client roles. So go ahead, have that conversation with your clients early on. Begin developing project champions up front and you’ll see dividends in the long run.

Zach Valchar

Zach is a Project Manager for Woolpert’s Information Technology Management Consulting (ITMC) group with experience helping organizations transform business operations and realize their investment in technology.