1.3 Delivering with style
You can deliver the outcomes agreed with the minimum of fuss or celebration – or you can deliver with style. A project that is delivered so that it meets the outcome requirements exactly and is on time and within the budget allowed will usually be well received.
In many projects the moment of final delivery may not be clearly defined, as different elements may have different times and modes of delivery. However, each delivery offers an opportunity to please the client by making the presentation part of the successful outcome. For example, when a new suite of rooms that have been fitted out for use as offices are handed over to the client, there will be only one chance of making a first impression! Suppose the furniture is assembled and in place, but the carpets are covered in dust and wrappings from new furniture left in a pile by the entrance. How much better it would have been to have spent a few minutes vacuuming the carpet and clearing away the debris – and to have placed a few plants or vases of fresh flowers on the shelves or desks.
Imagine that you are leading a project in which you have been contracted to deliver a series of training events within a small organisation. What might you do to demonstrate to your client that you have successfully achieved the outcomes required?
You might have thought about providing the client with evidence that the required number of staff had attended the training events, and had successfully passed the tests that you had set; and that the task had been achieved to the required quality standards within the time-scale set and the budget agreed. However, did you consider how you might have involved the client a little, and shared some experience of the outcomes rather than simply supplying a paper record? For example, the staff have been trained to do something new, so you might provide an opportunity for the client to see their new performance. This could be done in the concluding hour or so of a training event, if the client or another senior manager would agree to watch an end-of-course presentation in which the staff demonstrate their new abilities. You might also have thought of inviting the sponsor to present certificates.
Presentation is about creating an impression. Handover events can create a favourable or unfavourable impression.
The successful completion of a project is the purpose of the whole thing – but, somehow, the final stages can often be an anticlimax, or the unwelcome disbanding of a happy team. Ideally, the project conclusion will be marked by a satisfied client, a proud team and pleased stakeholders. The conclusion can be planned as a celebration, to take place whilst the project team is still intact. Planning to celebrate success demonstrates confidence in the project, and can be indicated as a milestone from the early stages of the plan. You could, of course, plan to celebrate achievements at each milestone review, but a final party can be the focus of successful project completion.
Planning celebratory events can be a motivating factor for the team, and can help to keep up momentum in the later stages of a long project.
Example 3: Keeping up the momentum in a long project
Three years is very long in the world of IT projects, where staff seek variety of work and enjoy the challenge of stretching themselves to acquire new skills in the ever-expanding world of technology. Projects that continue for this length of time would witness career changes, developments and setbacks. People may change employers, may emigrate to far-away places or may face all kinds of changes of fortunes. The project management has to understand and deal with these developments to ensure that the consequences for the project are kept to a minimum and to maintain motivation and commitment in the rest of the team.
We had planned to achieve a major milestone approximately every six months. Every time we reached one of these milestones we would organize a party where we let our hair down and simply enjoyed ourselves. In some of these parties, we would present each team member with a little something as a souvenir to remember the occasion. Once we presented a T-shirt with the project logo while another time we would hand out certificates for the contribution the team had made.
In each one of these parties the team would hear a new piece of information on the final project success party, which was a closely guarded secret within a small group of individuals. Some team members were almost obsessed about trying to find out more about this party, giving us countless opportunities for some gentle teasing. What form the party would take, where it would be, who would be present and so on were some of the questions that would be asked. The only piece of information that was available was the date, which was set to be just two weeks after the official end of the project.
There are many other ways of signalling success as a project progresses. It is often effective to keep everyone who has an interest in the project informed about successes, through a news-sheet or public announcements. This also gives an opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of the team and to contribute to keeping morale high.