11 November 2006

When there's a choice, make your client look like a hero

Communications about long-running projects are vital to your success. Your client has plenty to think about. He is trying to manage his underlying business and absorb the stream of information that is coming out of your project. Is it any wonder that they can sometimes seem overloaded, or even unaware of the quality of some of the work that is being done for them?

It does no harm at all to remind clients what a project has achieved. In the heat of the moment they can literally forget where an idea came from or how much a particular process used to cost them - those things are history, part of the past with little bearing on today's problem. The reminder can play a very real part in informing your client just how much value the project has delivered to their business. The thing that will make it memorable though is if you can help your internal client look like a hero to his or her colleagues. Do that and you will make your client's job easier. Their opinion will be respected and even though they will still have to go through the same processes as everyone else to get funding for new work, whenever it comes to weighing judgement and expertise, you will have given them an edge.

The other reason for making a lot of noise about the success of a long-running project is that those type of projects can suffer from a loss of immediacy after a while. Participants have other calls on their time and it can become more difficult to justify time to the long-running project if they have a burning issue which needs immediate resolution. Here, communication about the success of the project has the effect of raising the visibility of the successes achieved, providing everyone with the confidence that their future contributions will pay back, too.

Communication is vital throughout any project, but long-running projects tend to suffer from three basic problems:
  • insufficient content
  • poor timing
  • lack of tailoring to the different audiences
These can all be serious mistakes, but it is better to have poorly tailored communications going out to everyone at the right frequency than it is to have beautifully tailored communications going out too infrequently. Consider the exercise as an important part of your cost of sales.

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