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Managing Projects to Delight Customers.

All businesses are set up to satisfy customers with specific offerings- products and services. It does not matter whether they are B2C or B2B businesses; the common objective is to satisfy customers. To deliver on that goal, I strongly believe that businesses can deliver more efficiently if these offerings are thought of as projects rather than mere products or services.

The actual modalities for the B2C and B2B might vary; however, the ultimate goal of delighting customers will be achieved. Project Management should be imbibed in the customer experience to ensure, effective and efficient delivery of business offerings.

What is a project? Why is it important to go this route? According to the Project Management Institute, the world’s leading not-for-profit professional membership association, a project is a temporary group activity designed to produce a unique product, service or result. A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources. And a project is unique in that it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a singular goal. So a project team often includes people who don’t usually work together – sometimes from different organizations and across multiple geographies.

According to Wikipedia, a project is a temporary endeavour designed to produce a unique product, service or result with a defined beginning and end, usually time-constrained. Project Management is the process and activity of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling resources, procedures and protocols to achieve specific goals in scientific or daily problems.

When described the way Wikipedia and PMI have done, it looks so academic and impossible. However I like the way Frank Ryle, a 20-year veteran of the field, who has worked as an international project manager for Arup International, managed construction and operation of the first Cadbury Schweppes factory in Russia, and now trains and teaches project management, put it in an interview with Kevin Purdy of Fast Company.

Mr Ryle simply described Project management as “…………. a thing you did, a job you had, but nobody wrote about it just a little while ago. You weren’t a ‘Project Manager’ in the 80’s and 90’s, but when something went good or bad, everybody else stepped backwards, and you were the one left. Project managers were the only ones who could talk about the process, not just the product. And, usually, you were the person who had the charm to do it. He added, “We all mostly learned by doing it”.

Simply put, managing projects ensures the work gets done within a time frame, with allotted budgets and resources. The final outcome is that your customers are delighted because their needs are met on time at affordable prices. To achieve this, there are specific processes and activities.

In managing a project certain aspects must be critically watched to ensure a well-executed project. They are the scope, time, cost, communication, human resources, and risk. There is also a need to manage any changes to that may occur within the scope of the project. Finally, integrating it all to ensure smooth operations of all the aspects of the project is critical to ensure timely delivery.

In addition, every project must have a life cycle within which it should be accomplished. Within this cycle, the project is initiated, planned and designed as well as executed. Also within this cycle, is appropriate monitoring to ensure conformity to the original plan. Finally, every project must be closed, preferably with objective met. This would be the point at which, stakeholders should breathe a sigh of relief because they are all happy with the final outcome.

However, there are constraints that could hinder the project. These are time, cost of the project, budgets, project scope, risks, available resources, as well as the overall quality of the project. Where these are in adequate supply, there should be no problem. However, if for any reason, a project runs low on any of these, it could hinder the project and extend the close date. In some extreme cases, it could ruin the project.

To mitigate against project failure and for a project to succeed, certain factors would come to play. This is why PM could be described as an art or science. The science would be an orderly step by step process while the art would involve intuitive abilities like trust as well as skills sets which would include leadership and people skills, to mention a few.

At the end of the day, the ability to manage projects is developed through experience, practice, and intuition, which is what Frank Ryle was trying to say. A skilled project manager understands the different ‘seasons’ of his project. He knows how and when to react to the different issues that may arise.

In conclusion, whether the business is a B2C, supplying clothes to the customer or a B2B, handing an advertising brief for their client, using Project Management tools would ensure far more efficient delivery to the customer. The more successful projects businesses embark on, the more happy customers will be.

Chinwe Kalu

Value Creation Consultant

chinwe.kalu@customerpassionpoint.com

+234 803 201 2458

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