Client-Centered Project Management:
Adapting Tools to Accelerate Adoption
A social service company needed to implement a vital project and develop a process to manage
and execute future initiatives.
The client did not have experience with project management tools and disciplines - but had a fast approaching deadline.
Assisted the client in developing milestones, using new features on existing
software, and introducing
project management tools.
A new, dedicated Project Management Office with staff, tools, and a structured approach to execution resulting in increased project delivery.
The Whole Story
Execute a vital project for our client, while equipping the organization with skills and
tools to action future initiatives autonomously.
Our social services client, with a solid 80-year history, asked us to assist with the planning and execution of a project that would provide consistent and compelling stewardship across their constituent base. At the time, the client did not utilize project managers, so this was an opportunity to demonstrate how to execute a project, from start to finish, applying the principles of project management. With a tight deadline approaching, we rapidly formed a cross-functional team to scope the project.
Understanding from our client that much of the staff was not experienced with the disciplines of project management, we had to thoughtfully craft our approach. We knew our style of managing, communicating, and executing the project would need to fit our client’s comfort level and operating environment,
while instilling the five essential elements of project management: discovery, definition,
development, delivery, and closure.
Stanton Blackwell’s Role
Execute the appointed project while instilling the basic concepts and tools of project management in the organization.
As we introduced the project life cycle to our client, we opted not to immediately launch with a rigid process, new software program, or extensive documentation. We took a different approach. We defined the work breakdown structure and outlined each project milestone with the cross-functional team, utilizing software they were already comfortable using. We implemented commonly used traffic light graphics to visually display within the plan where there were risks and issues, decisions to be made, and timeline delays. We also conducted regular, in-depth cross-functional team meetings to openly discuss the components of the project and to hold each other accountable.
There were bumps along the road, but the team implemented the new process for. consistent stewardship across their constituent base in time to impact the following fiscal year. Taking this simple, low-key approach put the team at ease and helped them to build trust. They remained open to the fundamentals
of project management and in fact, asked for more.
A newly established Project Management Office.
With a new CEO, the client undertook a strategic transformation and we witnessed a surge of new projects. As expected, resource constraints in the organization became apparent and the need for a dedicated Project Management Office was clear. Budgets were tight but the staffing of the internal PMO received little resistance. Our focused approach with the project management methodologies built both credibility and champions across the organization. When the PMO was announced, project leaders were lining up to benefit from the more structured approach to execution. We took the client from having modest project management capabilities to a full understanding of the discipline. The client was now equipped with a variety of tools to execute according to project complexity. Six months later, over 30 projects were scoped, prioritized, and governed by the newly formed team and the leader of the PMO had a vital role at the leadership table.
Contributor: Jennifer Williams
Jennifer offers Stanton Blackwell's clients extensive experience in nonprofit operations and project management. She leads with empathy and strives to be innovative, delivering the best solution and user experience based on a client's unique needs.