The Three P’s of Project Management

Project Managers are People Managers. Many of us have heard this over the years, but is that it? Are we nothing more than people managers? I will agree that we are responsible for managing people and that this is a portion of the PM (Project Manager) role. I ask that we take a moment to look at a couple of facts. Many PM’s get certification from the PMI (Project Management Institute) which is ISO (International Organization for Standardization) recognized certification. Additionally, one could also receive a Masters Degree in Project Management. With that in mind, are PM’s really nothing more than people managers? Is there really a perception that PM’s do nothing more than manage people? Is people management the most important function of a PM?In this article I want to present the three P’s of project management. The three P’s are to take into account the elements and structure of project management. As most of us know, there are five project management process groups and nine knowledge areas (please refer to the PMBOK guide for clarification). I can assure you that there is more than people management when it comes to the process groups and knowledge areas. On the other hand, without people and without people management projects can not be accomplished. So people management is important but without the other two P’s will a project be successful? Let me present the three P’s of Project Management and follow them with a review.1) People Management
2) Process Management and
3) Performance ManagementPeople Management is essential in regards to project management. It takes the leadership of the project manager to guide a team towards working together in symmetry to accomplish the objectives of a project. I feel that cooperation and collaboration are a couple of key ingredients when it comes to people management. Without cooperation and/or collaboration by the team or an individual on the team, a project can end up in jeopardy.How do you build a team that fosters collaboration and cooperation? I have found that the best decisions are made by a team not an individual. Early on in a project I bring the team together to discuss the objectives of the project. Then to engage the subject matter experts and the IT resources in a discussion that elicits the best decisions. I ask questions and encourage the team to do the same. Next we look at making a decision. I follow this up by looking for options or alternatives by asking if there is a better way. The information presented here leads to new and better decisions. New decisions are based on new information, get the team to to collaborate and cooperate and the best decisions will be made. The best information will be presented and individuals will be contributors.It is common for any team to go through forming, norming, storming and conforming in order to grow. The PM expects this and is prepared to manage it accordingly so the team performs. It is persuasive assertiveness that, when used effectively, leads the team in overcoming differences and strives for project success.To this point we have only discussed people management, and frankly, teams can be organized for all sorts of reasons and the team leader can use the information above to leverage the team. Is people management another term for project management?Process Management is equally important to People Management. Without either of these, the ability to provide a successful project outcome is severely diminished. To improve the outcome of a project the PM utilizes sound and repeatable processes that lead to a successful project implementation. PM’s use their knowledge, skills and effectiveness to incorporate the project management process groups and knowledge areas. If the project management process groups and knowledge areas are not effectively managed along with the team there will be project chaos. If your project is in chaos or total chaos, what areas of project management are not being effectively involved in your project? Do you need to look far?I feel that without the utilization of a project management process that projects will wander and drift like a message in a bottle, no charted course and an unknown destination. I have felt the pains of projects without process. They struggled with technology implementations, cost over-runs and the project scope in constant flux. The end result, failure.I found that a similar team managed the next version of an application with a project management process in place, the results were outstanding. There was a solid scope document that provided the necessary information for user acceptance testing. There were five change requests made that went through the change control procedure, four were approved. The plan target date was not only achieved, but the work was completed ahead of schedule. Being ahead of schedule meant cost savings thus the project was completed under budget. All of this was achieved and there were no product defects.Could this have been accomplished with people skills alone? Would you be able to create project symmetry without a project management process? I feel you already know the answers to these questions.Finally there is Performance Management. For the most part, this category falls under process management for all intensive purposes. I like to breakout performance management and look at it from a different perspective. The purpose of performance management is to answer the question … How is you project coming along? When that is asked it should be able to be address the triple constraints. Is the project on schedule? Is it within budget? Will it meet the project scope? By measuring the triple constraints, a PM can track the actual progress of a project and make adjustments based on this information. Performance management holds the team accountable and keeps the senior team informed.Let’s take a moment to look back at earlier questions. Are project managers nothing more than people managers? Is people management the most important function of a PM? My response to this is that project managers must balance both people and process management. One without the other will not provide the optimum outcome.Special Note: I want to convey that I am not overlooking Quality. Quality falls under the knowledge areas which is referred to in the earlier process writings. I hope to go into greater detail on this topic in a future article. In addition, I am not overlooking problem management. I feel that problem management falls under people management since problems are found by people and decisions are made by people.With everything that has been presented here, it is important to keep in mind that Project Managers bring so much more to the success of a project than their ability to manage people. The three P’s of project management, (people, process and performance management) take into account much of the criteria needed for successful project management. As project managers, we are trained, skilled and experienced in this field. If projects are going well we know we are doing the right things. If projects are not going well, reflect on this and take action to correct its course. How well are your projects being managed?

When Service Goes Wrong, Bounce Back!

We all try to do things right. No business sets out to do wrong when servicing customers. But life is full of unexpected moments and, inevitably, mistakes do happen. When this happens, so does the opportunity to improve customer loyalty.While many people in business focus on doing things right the first time, very few seem to take a powerful interest in setting things right when things do go wrong. In those moments, a passion for “zero defects” often gives way to “Let’s get this mess cleaned up fast and pretend it never happened.”Because of this attitude, businesses miss an important opportunity to improve customer loyalty and build valuable goodwill. It is exactly when things go wrong that customers are most sensitive about how they are treated, most likely to share their experiences with friends and colleagues and most likely to make lasting decisions about whether to bring their future business back to that company, or to its rival. Act correctly at this time and you can improve customer loyalty.We all know mistakes will happen. What we do not know is how we will be treated when we go back to get the mistake corrected. “Will they treat me as if it’s my fault?” “Will they argue with me?” “Will they make it difficult for me to prove my purchase, fill out papers or otherwise file my complaint?”In these unpleasant moments, customers’ sensitivities are heightened. If they were casual shoppers before, they become discerning now. If they were discerning shoppers before, they become hypersensitive when things go awry.You can make that sensitivity work in your favor to improve customer loyalty. When service errors are quickly and professionally handled, you can improve customer loyalty can actually see it “bounce back” to greater heights than if the problem never happened. That’s why service recovery situations can be described as “opportunities you wish you never had.”Consider this example to improve customer loyalty:You buy a pair of expensive shoes at a small boutique and pay cash. You go home and eventually throw away the receipt. Two weeks later as you’re walking down the street, the heel pops off and falls beyond reach into the drain below. You decide to return your new shoes to the boutique and ask for a replacement. But of course you’re a bit nervous since you’ve thrown away your receipt.Now imagine the sales clerk welcoming you with a smile and right away setting you at ease about not having kept your receipt. She promptly gives you a new pair of shoes and then adds in a free pair of matching socks to thank you for coming back, and to apologize for the inconvenience you experienced.Would you return to that boutique in the future? Would you recommend that boutique to your friends? Of course you would. Your loyalty to the boutique has actually gone up because you had a service problem and the recovery was handled very well. The boutique took the right steps to improve customer loyalty.This is the key point: When things go wrong, you have a tremendous opportunity to improve customer loyalty just by quickly and generously setting things right.To capture the secret advantage hiding inside your next service breakdown, train everyone to understand and use these seven simple steps to improve customer loyalty.”Bouncing Back” with S E R V I C E recovery to improve customer loyalty:S-ay You’re Sorry.There’s nothing like a sincere apology, delivered right away, to let people know you really care. There’s no need to grovel or apologize forever. One honest and heartfelt apology will suffice to improve customer loyalty.E-xpedite Solutions.The faster you can fix the problem, the better. This is not the time to calculate the cost of repairing the damage. Do what it takes to set things right and you will improve customer loyalty. Costs will be forgotten or absorbed over time, but benefits last forever.R-espond to the Customer.Remember people are involved, not just products, dates and orders. Take the time to empathize. Be a listening ear. Keep personal contact; use the phone, send a fax, stay in touch. And when it’s all over, thank them personally with a note, small gift or some other special gesture to improve customer loyalty.V-ictory to the Customer.Improve customer loyalty by giving more than they expect. Refunds, discounts, special assistance, extra services; it doesn’t have to be money. But whatever it is, do it fast! No loyalty is gained from a refund or gesture that takes months to negotiate, authorize or discuss.I-mplement Improvements.Change your processes and improve training to avoid the same problem next time. Institutionalize improvements to help improve customer loyalty across the board.C-ommunicate Results.Spread the word so that everyone can learn from what has happened. Provide full information about consequences and improvements.E-xtend the Outcome.Don’t stop working when they stop complaining. Stay in touch until you are sure the customer comes back and their long-term loyalty is assured.What else can you do to improve customer loyalty? Make it easy for your customers to complain! Create new ways for customers to let you know what’s wrong.Here are some ideas to get you started:• Set up a telephone hotline for immediate response to customer comments and complaints.• Give counter staff the power to take prompt and significant action for your customers.• Conduct focus groups with a cross-section of customers to find out what they want you to fix or do better to improve customer loyalty.• Run surveys to keep track of your customers’ changing expectations. Find out what customers are buying now and what they want in the future.• Provide easy-to-use comment cards at all points of customer contact and insert them in all outgoing mail. Show your appreciation for responses, and reply quickly.• Become a customer of your best competitors. Eagerly seek out what they do better or differently than you. Then make appropriate improvements in your business operation and you will improve customer loyalty.Long-term, loyal customers lead to lower costs, repeat orders, frequent referrals and expanding profit margins. Losing one of these precious patrons is much more costly than the revenue from a single sale!Service recovery does cost money (although a sincere apology costs nothing and goes a long way toward appeasing upset customers). But perhaps service recovery shouldn’t be seen as a cost at all!Bouncing back through generous service recovery is a proven strategy for building repeat business and long-term sustainable profits. It’s not a cost, it’s an intelligent business investment that will improve customer loyalty.

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