Some of the more popular project management tools these days offer you the option of creating limited accounts for your clients/co-workers and others, so that they can see progress, changes and otherwise interact with you faster than they might otherwise. (Do never assume that email can replace a real project management approach towards success).
Some projects do require a more formal approach to “the PMO Discipline” – while other projects (and customers) would be quite ok with updates via email and phone. What is important is to align the expectations, so you are not caught on the wrong foot.
One of the big questions you have to ask yourself is whether your clients will ever log into your project management tool ??. If the tool is not a part of their workflow or, worse yet, if clients aren’t comfortable with anything but email, asking those clients to use something new just puts one more hurdle between you and them.
The main thing here is, that you need to establish a shared (and mutual understanding) of both tools, frequenzy and communication form in the project – and remember for your self, what is the purpose of the meeting / documentation or the tool introduced. In my mind, almost every project does require:
- A written and formalised list of success criteria’s
- A formal project plan / project scope – to illustrate the stages.
- A minimum of a daily log, recording all actions in the projects, but relevant (milestones) and learning (during project)
- Frequent dialogue (Phone and emails if needed) – but never to replace the above listed actions.
So what happens when you participate in projects where these criteria are NOT fulfilled in the project form ??
The Project Management Conversation
For bigger projects, with more moving pieces and several participants, email (and documents) may not be an option — it depends on your workflow and just how hands on the client wants to be.
You might need something more professional. Open the conversation about how you will handle managing the project – as soon as as possible.
If it’s a small project, or if you aren’t working with a customer / partner who embraces same methodology – the best option may very well be for you to manage everything on your side and then send out updates by email as appropriate. There’s no need to make the process more complicated than it has to be -and by offering to be the PMO (Assistant) you might find yourself more comfortable during the project time.
Don’t be afraid to bring up this question – you might end up contributing to a clear and absolute success story.