Technology Alone Can’t Make You A Better Project Advocate

The role of project advocate is one PMP®s take very seriously. The bad news is that heavy workloads and garden variety time constraints sometimes push advocacy down on the priority scale. One popular solution is for project teams to seek out technology tools to maximize their resources.

 

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It’s a good strategy but it has some holes. As much as technology is helpful and effective, it doesn’t have what it takes to make you a better project advocate. It’s a role that still requires dedication, high-touch approaches that address the support stakeholders need and expect, and plain old hard work. If your advocacy efforts seem to be falling short, see if you’re relying too much on technology to take up the slack.

 

Low-tech communications continue to offer better engagement

E-mail is great for most project office communications, but it’s a platform that sometimes fails when it comes to addressing the nuances of project advocacy. During the early phases of a new project in particular, it’s crucial that PMP®s seek to better understand the challenges facing stakeholder groups. Digging down through the various obstacles, needs, concerns, questions, and organizational limitations—either real or perceived—often requires a much more real-time approach. Stakeholders may not know what type of information your team needs, or they may not understand enough about the project’s scope to ask the questions that truly speak to the heart of their concerns. Interactions that are face to face (or via telephone if geography is an issue) are much better suited to these types of conversations.

 

Number crunching only goes so far

Analyzing budget figures, expense spreadsheets, timelines, organizational charts, and any other type of data simply will not give the project team all of the insight necessary to successfully advocate for stakeholders’ needs. Instead, PMP®s may want to look at methodologies that leverage long-form user surveys and focus groups when it comes to reviewing stakeholder satisfaction, a project’s current status, and expected progress milestones. It’s an approach that gives stakeholders the opportunity to provide data the team didn’t specifically seek out, which in turn may enable PMP®s to identify where advocacy efforts need to be improved.

 

There are, fortunately, several ways technology can still be of significant use in the advocacy realm. By combining a more personalized approach with a handful of carefully selected support tools, PMP®s can continue to maximize their efficiency without losing their connection to stakeholders.

 

Communications

Video conferencing may be on the high-tech side of the communications coin, but it still offers a relatively high-touch experience. Rather than resort to e-mail for long-distance discussions with stakeholders, consider if a quick video discussion would be more effective. It’s a solution that works for one-on-one conversations as well as group meetings.

 

In addition, programs that enable stakeholders to retrieve project data when it’s convenient for them—rather than on the schedule the team chooses to distribute it—can often help to address questions before they evolve into concerns. If your Project Team isn’t sure where to start on providing on-demand information, consider status updates and work disruption schedules as a good first level.

 

Data gathering

Yes, user surveys and customer testimonials offer important information. However, there are several technology platforms out there that can add real horsepower to these otherwise low-tech solutions. Searchable databases, for example, allow the project team to harvest valuable information from past surveys without digging through individual responses. By carefully searching historical data, PMP®s are provided with an opportunity to spot and analyze trends, as well as the ability to identify common problem areas that could be resolved with a more proactive advocacy approach.

It’s a good strategy but it has some holes. As much as technology is helpful and effective, it doesn’t have what it takes to make you a better project advocate. It’s a role that still requires dedication, high-touch approaches that address the support stakeholders need and expect, and plain old hard work. If your advocacy efforts seem to be falling short, see if you’re relying too much on technology to take up the slack.

 

Low-tech communications continue to offer better engagement

E-mail is great for most project office communications, but it’s a platform that sometimes fails when it comes to addressing the nuances of project advocacy. During the early phases of a new project in particular, it’s crucial that PMP®s seek to better understand the challenges facing stakeholder groups. Digging down through the various obstacles, needs, concerns, questions, and organizational limitations—either real or perceived—often requires a much more real-time approach. Stakeholders may not know what type of information your team needs, or they may not understand enough about the project’s scope to ask the questions that truly speak to the heart of their concerns. Interactions that are face to face (or via telephone if geography is an issue) are much better suited to these types of conversations.

 

Number crunching only goes so far

Analyzing budget figures, expense spreadsheets, timelines, organizational charts, and any other type of data simply will not give the project team all of the insight necessary to successfully advocate for stakeholders’ needs. Instead, PMP®s may want to look at methodologies that leverage long-form user surveys and focus groups when it comes to reviewing stakeholder satisfaction, a project’s current status, and expected progress milestones. It’s an approach that gives stakeholders the opportunity to provide data the team didn’t specifically seek out, which in turn may enable PMP®s to identify where advocacy efforts need to be improved.

 

There are, fortunately, several ways technology can still be of significant use in the advocacy realm. By combining a more personalized approach with a handful of carefully selected support tools, PMP®s can continue to maximize their efficiency without losing their connection to stakeholders.

 

Communications

Video conferencing may be on the high-tech side of the communications coin, but it still offers a relatively high-touch experience. Rather than resort to e-mail for long-distance discussions with stakeholders, consider if a quick video discussion would be more effective. It’s a solution that works for one-on-one conversations as well as group meetings.

 

In addition, programs that enable stakeholders to retrieve project data when it’s convenient for them—rather than on the schedule the team chooses to distribute it—can often help to address questions before they evolve into concerns. If your Project Team isn’t sure where to start on providing on-demand information, consider status updates and work disruption schedules as a good first level.

 

Data gathering

Yes, user surveys and customer testimonials offer important information. However, there are several technology platforms out there that can add real horsepower to these otherwise low-tech solutions. Searchable databases, for example, allow the project team to harvest valuable information from past surveys without digging through individual responses. By carefully searching historical data, PMP®s are provided with an opportunity to spot and analyze trends, as well as the ability to identify common problem areas that could be resolved with a more proactive advocacy approach.

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