Project teams are always on the prowl for ways to be more proactive. Whether it’s managing stakeholder communications, addressing potential resource allocation conflicts, or developing an effective training program, a proactive approach offers better and more consistent results.
If the following reactive habits continue to lurk within your Project Team, take the opportunity to improve the team’s performance by shifting toward more proactive strategies.
1 – Stakeholder meetings are scheduled as needed. Filling everyone’s calendars with unnecessary group huddles is inefficient and unproductive, but it’s far too easy to fall into a reactive rut when it comes to handling end user and sponsor interactions. Rather than wait for a groundswell of concerns or the threat of a problem to trigger a meeting with stakeholders, the project team should instead develop a proactive calendar for regular get-togethers. One way to allay concerns about the time commitments that must be made (either by the project ream or its customers) is to look for ways to leverage new ways to connect. Brief conference calls or web-based conversations may suit everyone’s needs for the majority of project meetings while still ensuring that communications stay ahead of the curve rather than occurring only when problems or concerns must be addressed.
2 – Project updates are sent to sponsors and executives. Sending routine project updates to the various stakeholder groups is a time-honored activity within the Project Team, and it certainly shouldn’t come to a complete stop. However, with the technology available today—everything from mobile devices to cloud-based application suites that enable access from anywhere—there’s no reason high-level stakeholders need to be waiting around on the project team to provide them with the latest information. Status and progress reports, actual and pending expenditure figures, vendor contracts, service level agreements, and details on the allocation of key resources can instead be made available on demand. This gives sponsors, champions, executives, and others in the organization’s leadership group a way to access, at their convenience, the most up-to-date data on every project.
3 – Training is scheduled after yearly budgets are approved. Because many good instructors and the classes they lead are in high demand, project teams are likely to find themselves scrambling for available seats if they wait until the budget approval cycle is complete to start shopping for training opportunities (when other professionals are also madly trying to book spots in those same classes). A proactive Project Team will instead be mindful to develop a culture of education that ensures continuity from one budget period to the next, and puts project team members in a position to take advantage of the best training sessions for their particular career path and competency requirements. The same holds true for those project offices that develop their own internal curriculums. Delaying this activity until after budgeting is complete may result in too little time being available for instructors and students to connect.
4 – Staffing needs are addressed on a per-project basis. Like training, where efforts may be relegated to those times of the year when budgets are flush, Project Teams often focus on attracting new candidates only when the need is pressing. This could limit the field of interested professionals to those who are looking for new opportunities at precisely the same time your team is searching for candidates. A strong recruiting program benefits from a more proactive approach. A good strategy allows the Project Team to cultivate relationships with experienced PMP®s who may seek to become project team members later while also giving the group an opportunity to identify other potential pools of labor, from local college interns to experienced consultants.