Every successful software project starts with business goals. The first question a project manager asks is, what are these goals? You are expected to know, archive and incorporate these goals into your project. This is where a consultant PM can get confused, because in fact s/he is working for two organizations at the same time: his/her own consulting company, as well as his/her company’s end client. Each one has its own goals and expectations.
The challenge for the consultant PM is to balance both sets of goals and expectations, because s/he is, in fact, working for both companies. The art here is to meet all client goals and expectations without losing sight of your own company’s. Neither can be sacrificed for the sake of the other. Fortunately at Coherent Solutions, there is a clear imperative to serve our clients first and foremost. Their success is what creates our success. But we can’t go out of business serving our clients selflessly, can we? So there is still an element of finesse to maintaining the value of the partnership on both sides.
I have found that by asking the following three questions I am able to clarify and manage all goals and expectations from the start.
- What are the client’s business goals for this project?
- What are the client’s expectations of the partnership with your company?
- What are your company’s expectations of the partnership with the client?
Getting clear and complete answers to these questions at the start of a project helps me to create the business context around the partnership so that I can manage all expectations while striving to reach the stated goals. Gathering and incorporating this information is the first step in my project planning and execution. And I find that I need to review these guidelines throughout execution, as goals can change and I need to re-calibrate accordingly.