We work on many types of projects with our clients around the world. Today’s project management is so much different than before the internet and integrated online software caused the world to move fast…much faster. Our team at AscendWorks takes full advantage of the cloud, and we have an effective approach to how we manage projects. We thought we would share some things that makes our process a delight for our customers.
When we work to implement new systems for marketing, sales or business processes, we are introducing change. The CRM systems, custom software, or websites are only a part of the equation. There are many other factors which will determine success. Here are some things we do to help our customers:
- Focus on one system. We use Basecamp as our project management tool. Our customers login at our AscendWorks site. We set expectations that all communications will be captured in Basecamp and have the mantra, “If it’s not in Basecamp, it did not happen.”
- Define the project and desired behaviors. Each new project is set up by the account manager on our team. They own the relationship with our customer and ensure the following happens:
- Requirements are captured methodically and translated into tasks.
- Communications about project status, expectations and tasks we need from our customers are communicated.
- Coordination with our consulting team for implementation of each To-Do item and assurance that everyone is on the same page.
- Milestones are managed for key deliverables; dependencies are tracked; and everyone is kept on task and on schedule.
- Conduct a scoping and requirements meeting. Kicking off the project with how we will communicate and get things done gets our team and the client’s team on the same page. We want to ensure that:
- Everyone on both teams are added to the project.
- Roles are clearly defined.
- We understand key internal impacts from the client.
- We have access to the right IT resources so we can move fast.
- Templated project tasks lists and milestones. Many of the consulting projects we work on have a framework for execution already. We have automated the process for loading our implementation steps from our past experiences. We pre-load these and assign them to respective project members – both the customer and our team. This offers an immediate framework to work and modify as needed.
- Solicit content early. We make requests for niche content for web pages, white papers, e-books, sales templates or any other specific branding elements. We assign those tasks, as well as associative copyediting tasks to our team members responsible for editing and publishing of the content inside the sales and marketing systems we build. The customer can track revisions inside of our project management system and give feedback, as well as sign-off.
- Stay alert for new requirements. The account manager on our team is the quarterback of the project. It is always the case that customers get clarity on what they want the further we move into the project. We help develop strategy for our clients; however, this does not preclude additional requirements coming in. Thus, we stay alert and vigilant for new requirements. This often comes from phone calls, meetings or inbound emails as well as Basecamp message posts. We translate those into To-Do items quickly and post any clarifying questions for those that need to help refine the requirement. We assess each requirement and:
- Communicate if it has an impact on the timetable and milestones
- Get sign-off for increased budgeted consulting time on the project
- Clarify challenges and obstacles
- Solicit technical issues from our consultants
- Track consulting time and give updates. We track time with our consultants, and our office manager updates our customers across all of our projects to help the client understand our progress from an effort and remaining scope standpoint.
- Deal with problems. We communicate with our clients consistently. These conversations are searchable, and we ensure everything is in Basecamp. When there is “family business” or we don’t want to distract the customer with the details of problems, we have private messages to deal with the background issues. When we are clear, we communicate if needed in the context of Messages or To-Do items.
- Define the launch. Success happens when the customer adopts the new systems we develop and their team is trained and bought in. We work closely with an internal champion to help drive this and provide resources typically via a knowledge base or within the context of their project.
- Drive to closure. The goal of a project is to finish it. We archive finished projects by ensuring every To-Do is completed and every Milestone is complete. This goes into our archives, and we reference these on future projects or if we have to revisit customer issues. The customer signs off that everything has been delivered.
Projects are messy because people and change are both difficult and unpredictable. We realize that we are hired for our leadership, strategy and execution. The experience we seek to provide is one of professionalism and delight. We work hard to create the ultimate customer experience. Our own experiences have helped us to deliver consistently, and that track record reinforces our capability to execute.
We believe that the best plans have to remain flexible. Reality has a way of changing things quickly. So our approach is agile. We move fast and anticipate change. We work within frameworks rather than rigid project management.
What do you think? Feel free to comment below.