Congratulations! You made it! You have successfully closed out a project that has taken nearly 9 months to complete. It seems like only yesterday when you started out on this new endeavor with a team of bright-eyed, cheery team members. Everyone was filled with hope and optimism that this project was going to be the game changer that the company needed to move into a new line of business…and it was!
It certainly didn’t come without its share of trials and tribulations.
You reflect on putting the first IT Project Plan together and everyone laughing at you because they thought the project schedule was ridiculous. You reflect on the long days and late nights. You think about the heated debates amongst passionate team members as they each presented their solutions to problems that came up on the project. But, you also revel in the pride of accomplishment everyone felt as this project was completed. Plus, the friendships and loyalties that were forged along the way warm your heart as you think about these new relationships coming to fruition.
What do you do now that the project is complete? You have undoubtedly taken care of all the administrative side of things. If you want to distinguish yourself as a project manager that takes things the extra mile, there are a number of small things you can do that will make a big difference on your project. Below are three suggestions you may want to consider:
Throughout the execution of the IT project plan you can remember certain things that team members’ accomplished on the project that really made a big difference.The best way to document these accomplishments is to make a note to yourself the moment that they occur. It’s easy to set up a Rule in Outlook or whatever e-mail program you use that will automatically file emails with a certain word in the title.
Whenever you catch someone on the project doing something exceptional, send a quick email to yourself with a brief description that will allow you to remember what they did at the end of the project. Include the Word in the subject line (for example REVIEW or COMPLETION) that will automatically allow Outlook to file these accomplishments in a special folder until you are ready for them.
When the time comes to acknowledge team members contributions you can then open this file of real-time accomplishments and begin thinking about the best way to provide them with recognition.
There are a number of ways this can be done. You can write a sincere and genuine thank you card to the team member that gets very specific with their accomplishments and thanks them for how the contributed to the success of the project. Or, you can write an email to that person’s manager or supervisor and make sure they know the specifics of what this person did that helped move the project forward. If you have a bit of a larger budget you can set-up a lunch or dinner and publicly recognize team member’s accomplishments in front of their peers and colleagues.
The trick is to make sure you are rewarding the behavior that you would like to see on future projects. You will undoubtedly work with these people again and if you really appreciate their timeliness, accuracy, or desire to go above and beyond make sure you tell them. They’ll appreciate you taking notice of what they’ve done and will most likely continue that behavior on your next project.
2. Let Others in the Company Know the Project is Complete
This step falls into the category of ‘marketing’ your project and letting others know what the project will do for the company. Letting others in the company know about project completion is not necessarily something that is included in the project plan, but it is very important nonetheless.
Good communication within companies is something that is typically lacking. If you want to let others know about the success and completion of your project then you will have to come up with ways to get the word out.
Where can you start to ‘publicize’ the completion of your project? Your company’s marketing department. Marketing departments are constantly looking for good content to promote and get out to everyone. Depending upon the nature of the project that was completed, this could be something that is as simple as putting in the company newsletter (tell them you’ll even write the article) or letting the entire world know about it by creating a Press Release and distributing it for everyone to read.
Don’t have a marketing department or they may not have enough bandwidth to get the word out on your behalf? You could then take it upon yourself to put together a brief email together and distributing it to key stakeholders within the company to let them know the project has been completed and what this means for the company.
3. Communicate Back the Results of the Project to the Original Team
Once some time has passed you will know the results of the project. You should compile these results and communicate them back to the original project team. For example, the project may have been implemented in order to save time, increase revenue, cut costs or some other important business initiative.Once a month or two has passed you can interview the beneficiaries of the project (either internal or external) and see how it is meeting their expectations. Capture key metrics that you can share with the team and a testimonial or two that highlights the benefits this project has brought to those who are using the results. Your team will appreciate the time you took to compile this and let them know that what they are working on is worthwhile and appreciated.
What if you find that the results are not as originally anticipated in the original project plan? This is also a great time to uncover this truth. It’s better to hear this up front while something can be done about it rather than 6 – 12 months down the road when it’s too late. Maybe the department that is using the results of the project did not see all of the automation that was promised to save time. This is a great time to dig into the details and see if there is anything that can be done to make things better.
There’s nothing like making it to the last item on the plan and reflecting on a job well done. There’s a feeling of pride and accomplishment that is reserved for only the most tenacious of project managers that sees projects all the way to completion.
Take your project completion to the next level by implementing the three steps above. Are they critical to the success of your project? No. Will they help you with every project you undertake from this point forward? Absolutely! You’ll find that by taking the extra time to do the steps above that your future projects will become that much smoother because of a motivated project team, informed stakeholders, and appreciative clients!
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