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Sunday, 24 August 2014 06:47

Pieces of chocolate!

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For most of us, chocolate is a delicious food that regardless of what age we are, we would rather have it most of time. Today, I would like to share an approach which can be useful in managing projects. I have called it "Pieces of chocolate", but you might be able to think of other names for it and I would be happy if you would like to share these with me.

Nowadays, stakeholder or customer satisfaction is one of the most important factors to be successful in business. We know that the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) is more important than other C-Levels for now, because market competition is tighter in comparison with the past and market targets are defined based on customer requests as well.

If we want to meet the point above, we need to execute a project based on a consecutive set of results. And these results must be VALUABLE for a business. Unfortunately, we still observe project teams that spend a lot of time and effort on a project (or a project’s stages) to develop internal artefacts, instead of focusing on being result-driven. So it is clear to see that business stakeholders who do not desire to support a project, have negative views or do not believe in the project outcomes.

As we know there are various approaches and frameworks for this purpose, such as agile approaches, iterative incremental development, etc. They all insist on this content, that we should execute a project in small chunks and each chunk must be providing business value in line with the project objectives.

“Pieces of chocolate” is a term that I use for this purpose. We can look at our project results (for each chunk) as pieces of chocolate, that these pieces are delicious and encourage business stakeholders to trust the project team and wait for more results. When people taste your yummy chocolate that you have created and are happy with that, they will trust you and would like to wait to have some more.

But at least three main elements that are important to be successful on this journey. There are:

- Communication:
This is a main element while working with others. Almost 90% of a project manager’s time is spent on that! But this element must be well and clearly defined and having a project management communication plan is vital for this purpose. When people are correctly informed and know just enough about what is going on in a project, they will be more positive. Won’t they? Remember that developing and executing a communication plan are BOTHimportant! Based on several researches on different projects, stakeholder communication has a big impact on the project outcomes. So, be careful!

- Collaboration:
All of us know that team working is important. It helps people to be involved in different stages of work, to share their ideas and opinions and feeling they have a commitment to the outcome. When we involve business stakeholders in a project, it has several benefits for us. For example they can see the progress of a project, they can understand project challenges, we will be informed about changes that will happen in the business, they collaborate in several parts of the project so getting to sign off at the end is much easier and we can also get feedback before moving on further. But to be successful in this area, we need to manage stakeholders very well. So, using stakeholder management techniques are really useful to be successful here. REMEMBER! We need to have positive stakeholders AND try to move negative ones to be neutral or positive people. I know it is not easy, but this is a fact!

- Presentation:
In addition to the above items, I believe in presentation is a very important element as well. Why? Because wrapping up pieces of chocolate is an important factor to encourage people to like them and want to taste them. So, we need to work on presenting project results very well. It must happen based on the stages of the project and the level of knowledge of business stakeholders.

In conclusion, I know we have different terms for all of items above, but I have collected them under the “Pieces of chocolate” term. We also need to consider, that all the elements above are dependent on each other and we need to mention them when we want to satisfy the project stakeholders. So, all do your best (as a team) to create delicious pieces of chocolate and sell them in right place and at the right time.
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