It’s the beginning of a project and you’re trying to get the team off the ground. There’s a stack of things to do: everything from setting up your project dashboard to reviewing potential benefits and getting the right resources.
So it’s hard to make time to consult more widely. But you should. Getting the right people involved in the project at the very beginning can make it a lot easier to get off on the right foot. The more you spend time with the right people, the easier it will be to put together a schedule and set expectations that are realistic.
Who should be part of your consultation panel? Here are the 7 people (or groups of people) that it will pay to talk to as early as possible.
These are the subject matter experts who will have an input into your project. In many cases these are IT or engineering staff but they could be anyone with a particular set of expert skills – skills that you will need throughout the project.
This could end up being a lot of people. On an IT project, for example, your IT team might include an architect, data analyst, business analyst, trainer, developers, testers, QA team members, configuration and release managers, the service desk and operational IT team and more. Try, if you can, to have one point of contact into your specialist teams, like a team leader. This will make it easier for you to manage the different strands of conversation. And if they are particularly techie in a way that you don’t understand, the person who is your interface into the group can be your ‘translator’!
As you’d expect the user group is really important. These are the business people who will use what the project will deliver.
Talk to them about their expectation for the end result, what they are hoping for and what problems they think the project will solve for them. You want to make sure that your project will deliver something of real value and you only do that if you are closely aligned to what the users want and how they work.
3. Finance Team
It’s always worth having someone in Finance look over your figures. Give them the budget that you have put together and ask them to cast their eye over it. In particular, get them to check the models and assumptions. Are you still using the right day rates for staff, or the right formulae for NPV and so on?
They can also review your benefits assumptions. You might not have been involved in putting together the business case for the project but soon it will be your responsibility to deliver something that will achieve the benefits stated. Get your Finance team to help with that by checking your models and calculations are both accurate and realistic.
4. Legal Team
Input from Legal is never a mistake! Spend time upfront working out whether there are any particular legal issues for this project, contracts to negotiate or legislation that you have to take into account. There could be codes of practice or upcoming legal changes that you aren’t aware of – it doesn’t take long to consult the experts and they could keep you out of a lot of trouble.
Your legal team might also give advice on compliance, or you may have a separate group that deals with compliance issues for your industry. If so, involve them too.
5. Senior Management
Your project is in line with company objectives and strategy, right? Just check in with the senior management team. You can do this by asking how they see this project fitting alongside the other projects that the company has running at the moment. Getting their take on prioritization will be important later when it comes to negotiating for resources.
6. Project Management Office
This group can be invaluable at project kick off time. They can help with a whole host of tasks from making sure that you have the right templates to helping you set up PrimaveraReader so that the right people have access to view the project from Day 1.
Get them to help you with resource identification and allocation, preparing estimates using their models and templates. You can also ask them to help you identify lessons from previous projects that might be relevant for this project. They should have a database or searchable list of lessons that you can sift through, or they might even do it for you.
You also have a lot of expertise, so listen to what your gut is telling you about this project. go back through the project archives of other projects and dig out some of those lessons learned. Give yourself time to absorb all the information from the people above, assimilate it and turn it into something useful for the project.
Draw on all your experience to get this project off to the best possible start. You can do it!
Have you involved these groups in your project kick off before? If not, have you ever been caught out by not getting them involved early in the project? If you are prepared to admit it, let us know your story in the comments section below!