Project Management

Remember: Users Are Real People

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected]. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

If you start your project management career leading agile initiatives, then the customer is always at the center of everything that happens. Each iteration of the solution is reviewed by users, and feedback directly influences future iterations. But in traditional project delivery, things are a little different.

Don’t misunderstand me—this isn’t a criticism of waterfall-style delivery methods. Every approach has its benefits and drawbacks, and organizations need to be able to deliver work in as many different ways as possible.

However, there is no denying that traditional project delivery—where many new PMs gain their first project management experience—often has little user and customer input after the work begins, at least until the testing phase.

As a result, it can be easy for project teams to lose sight of the fact that their work is ultimately going to be used by real people—employees applying the processes or interacting with the systems being developed; customers buying the product or service; and so on. Every team member understands that from a conceptual standpoint, but the implications can get lost.

The impact of solutions
Here’s an example from a project that I led quite a few years ago. We were building a new system for employees, and one of the functions required a lot of fields to be input. We were asked to …

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