Happiness probably isn’t the first thing people think of when they hear “Project Manager,” but maybe it should be. The underlying theme of this year’s Digital Project Management Summit was the idea that when we keep our internal teams and our clients happy, it leads to happy, i.e., winning, projects.

Imagine: You and a potential client have just formed a shiny new bond and have decided to embark on a shiny new project. Your project management team is beaming at the opportunity to raise this project from infancy into adulthood, with hopes that it doesn’t spiral out of control during the teenage years.  Though snags are inevitable, we explored three things that help keep projects in scope, on budget and on time.

1) Scope for success

 Many agencies now scope for client discovery. Since during initial discovery we get so much insight into the business and its goals, we often need to change the original strategy afterwards. Scoping for discovery first allows for flexibility to craft an accurate scope of work that meets client needs and goals. One feature of this approach is the “pause clause,” mentioned in a workshop led by Brett Harned, digital project management consultant and author of “Project Management for Humans: Helping People Get Things Done.” A “pause clause” enables a project to be put on on-hold if approvals aren’t timely or communications cease. This allows us to re-adjust priorities in the meantime.

2) Shape expectations early

Setting expectations early and ensuring both parties agree sets you up for success. As UK-based project manager Suzanna Haworth stressed in her presentation, “The Art of Managing Expectations,” this allows you to shape expectations before they’re cemented by the client. It also eliminates the need for expectation-management throughout the project.

Clarifying such things as permissions, which platforms to build on and specific needs for tracking can prevent future hiccups. In this vein, it’s always best to deliver bad news as soon as possible. Not discussing something only gives it more influence, and the velocity with which any kind of news is delivered impacts client and internal team happiness. As Sparkbox Vice President Rob Harr explained in his presentation, “Putting People Back into Projects,” client happiness is a small delta between project expectations and project reality.

3) Cultivate respect and happiness

 Having empathy, being respectful and treating people like, well, people, was one of the summit’s themes. It can be easy for project managers to refer to colleagues as “resources,” when they’re really the subject matter experts who bring projects to life. Having empathy for our internal talent, never underestimating their effort and providing them with project predictability nurtures team happiness.

Nothing is worse than seeing a promising project spoil due to lack of definition, expectation-setting or respect. As project managers, our first priority is project success, which is directly tied to team and client happiness.

Questions?

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Nothing is worse than seeing a promising project spoil due to lack of definition, expectation-setting or respect. As project managers, our first priority is project success, which is directly tied to team and client happiness.


About the Author

Bri Wolff

Senior Project Manager

Bri, a morning person and process geek, solves problems and capitalizes on opportunities in order to deliver creative solutions, smart campaigns, seamless execution and powerful results.



About the Author

Rachel Woodburn

Project Management Supervisor

Rachel is a passionate, detail-oriented Chicago native who leads web-based projects from conception to execution with impactful results. When she’s not optimizing workflows, you can find her enjoying Colorado’s great outdoors.