Planning a Project with the Right People
Each project caters to a defined and discerning audience therefore project managers just like any great musician, must know who they will cater to and communicate with and take this into consideration when planning a project.
What do you think the reaction of an audience would be if they went to a concert expecting a classical music performance but were instead regaled by the sounds of a popular heavy metal rock band? Or, how do you think an audience would respond if they went for a hip-hop performance and a ballet ensued? Or, how do you think someone would feel if they found out that they had just missed a performance by their most favorite artist? Everyone above would feel confused, disappointed, and let down.
The projects you manage could be in many ways considered a performance. You have to orchestrate a number of performers, there are various phases or acts as your project progresses, and you ultimately want the audience to stand up and cheer at the end of the performance of the project. That’s why it is so critical that you have the right audience engaged and involved from when you start planning a project to the very end. Having the right people involved are critical for the success of any project you manage.
Nine ways to identify the correct audience before you start planning a project
1. Get a Head Start on Putting your Project Audience List Together
Once you know that you have been assigned to be the project manager of a particular project, you should immediately start thinking about who should be included in this project. Thinking about the purpose of your project, its benefits, some of the challenges that may surface, and other nuances of your project. This will help you put together a solid short list of those who should be involved in the planning of a project. If you are struggling in putting together a list or only ending up with the obvious attendees (i.e. the client or the project sponsor) then you can dig deeper by asking these people who else they would recommend be involved in the planning process.
2. Consider All Phases of Your Project
When you begin planning a project it’s easy to identify those people who should be involved at the beginning and possibly into the middle of the project. But, you will need to keep in mind that as the project continues down its particular path of completion different people will need to be involved at different times. Think through all of who these people will be from beginning to end. For example, who needs to be involved at the very end of the project when it comes to closing the project out or making sure all the legal requirements are met? These people need to be identified so they can be part of the process of planning a project.
3. Dig Down Until you Identify the Right Audience
When you are planning a project you need to be mindful to dig down until you find exactly the right group, or even person, that you need to involve in the project planning process. For example, you may know that you need to include the marketing department, but exactly which part? The marketing department is responsible for trade shows, print advertising, the website, social media, and many other aspects that make up your company’s marketing efforts. Be sure to identify the right audience that you need to help when planning a project otherwise you may be met with confusion and disappointment.
4. Compile a List of Each Audience Member’s Name and Position
It’s now time to identify each person in the audience by position description and name. A great place to do this is to assemble a spreadsheet that includes the person’s name, department, title, email address, phone number, and even functional manager (you’ll see why this is important in the next step). Putting this list together in such a way will help you identify any obvious gaps that need to be filled in when it comes to audience identification.
5. Include Functional Manager’s as Part of the Audience List
You may wonder why this is necessary when it comes to planning a project since the functional managers are not the ones that will be doing the actual work. It’s important to include them on the list of audience members (even if it’s just another column next to the resources name) for a number of reasons. First, you want to establish a very good working relationship with your resources functional managers as they are typically directly responsible for access to and scheduling of the resources in their department. Second, if you find that you are not getting the cooperation you need from their resources you can solicit the assistance of their functional manager.
6. Include Resource Names for Each Role your Audience Plays
When planning a project and identifying the resources that will help put the plan together, it’s important to include them with each role they play. Let’s say a technical resource has recently been moved to the sales department to help out with pre-sales activity. Their input will be needed from both their new position as well as their former position as a technical resource. Include their name twice on the audience list you are compiling.
7. Keep your List Up-to-Date
Resources will come and go throughout the lifecycle of a project. This is especially true if it goes on for months or years. Make sure your audience list keeps up with these changes and continues to stay involved in the aspects of planning a project that are relevant for them. What was important from one person’s perspective may mean nothing to the new person that has taken over the position. You need to make sure your audience is aligned with the current performance or you could be met with icy stares and dissatisfaction at the end of the project.
8. Speak to as Many People as Possible
Go WAY beyond your comfort zone when it comes to planning a project and involving the right people. Move beyond just your organizational unit. Expand into other disciplines within your company. Open the door to additional groups of people that you typically do not involve in your projects. The more people you involve in the planning process the less likely you will overlook someone that should have been involved.
9. Not Sure Whether to Include Someone?
If there is someone that you are not sure whether or not should be included in your project audience, include them. It’s better to err on the side of inclusion than to fall on the side of exclusion. If someone doesn’t feel they need to be included when you are planning a project, they will let you know. If someone feels they SHOULD have been included when planning a project, they will also let you know. Not only will they let you know, but they will also let others around them know, your manager, and even upper executives that they were not able to provide their input into this particular project.
Once you have identified all the right people that should be included in planning a project, begin your discovery sessions with them. Interviews, workshops, webinars, and other methods of extracting their needs, concerns, risks, and issues will pay off as you near the end of your project. Your audience will be 100% aligned with your performance and who knows…you might even end up with a standing ovation!
Once you’ve identified your audience and invited them to help in the project planning process, use ProjectPlan.com FREE for 30 days to capture their needs. ProjectPlan.com suits all project types and sizes. Whether you’re building a house, managing an IT project or running a business, this project planning software helps you do it. It’s extremely easy to use and will save you time putting your next project plan together!