by Marat Oyvetsky, PMP
When professional service organizations work with customers to implement technical solutions, teams often rely on in-house technical staff for support and system/network access during implementation, testing, validation and training. And this is happening more during the pandemic. With limited access to onsite facilities, internal customer teams are more involved in the design and implementation process as they facilitate access and internal knowledge vital to the project. This creates management and resource issues that many professional services teams never had to face prior to COVID-19.
It starts with establishing regular communications with customer stakeholders—they’re the first line in advocating for the project’s success. They invested their company in the solution and are the champions of the project. Along with discussing the milestones, budget, issues and risks, project leaders should expand the conversation to include resource allocation for the customer’s project. Transparency is also vital in not only building trust but also in ensuring customer stakeholders fully comprehend what resources—both internal and external—are required for each task and milestone and what the overall level of effort might be. This will allow them to not only plan their own internal company requirements but to work with the project leader in planning their team’s support of the project.
Establishing internal and external customer communication becomes even more vital in situations where the implementation team relies on the customer team knowledge and access to complete certain tasks and milestones. Creating internal team meetings will allow the professional services team to discuss the project, the issues, risks and tasks associated with each milestone and align on all the project. Creating external customer team meetings will allow both teams to come together and review the project in full—addressing the issues, risks and milestones together and following a plan to completion in lockstep.
Project leaders also must be aligned with the customer engineering managers. In many cases, the professional services project leader has all of the responsibility and none of the required power necessary to drive the customer teams to complete certain tasks and milestones as they also have a responsibility to their own jobs. Communicating the tasks, milestones, level of effort and requirements to customer engineering management will allow the project leader to sync with customer management and ensure resource requests for time and deadlines are communicated and planned for. And that will keep the project and the teams on track and on budget.
COVID has created many challenges in working remotely for both professional services organizations and commercial company teams. One of the best solutions? Solid and planned communication between the professional services organization, the customer stakeholders and the teams to ensure transparency, resource planning, milestone, task and dependency alignment.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve encountered in aligning stakeholders during the pandemic?
November 5, 2020, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT | November 6, 2020 – February 7, 2021, On-Demand | Online Conference