In my first post on this topic, I talked about how project management in an agency model differs from project management in an internal PMO model, primarily that in the agency model, the client chooses the firm from among other firms. This presents a unique opportunity for the project manager and this post discusses that opportunity.
Throughout the sales process, clients meet and interact with account managers, account executives, sales personnel and even with the firm’s senior management. Yet the client’s lasting perception of the firm rarely comes from these interactions. Firm branding is a result of your client’s direct experience with your firm, which is almost always through the project manager. Given this reality, the project manager has an opportunity to brand the firm, develop a strong partnership and act as business development resource.
Every email you send, everything you say or do, every issue you resolve, even how you prep your project team for interaction with the client; EVERYTHING you do and manage on the project brands your firm. Therefore, be mindful of how you use this opportunity to not only add value for your client, but to present your firm as a trusted advisor (as opposed to an order-taker) to your client.
Even though everyone on the project team – development, creative, testing and business analysis resources – doesn’t necessarily report to you, you still are accountable for delivering an outstanding client experience as you work to solve the business problem(s) outlined in the client’s statement of work. Therefore, build solid relationships within your firm so you can make the most of this opportunity as you work with other functional teams in the SDLC.
Earning the role of a trusted advisor helps lay the foundations for a strong and mutually beneficial business partnership between the firm and the client. Project managers should therefore be mindful of the experience they manage, end to end. Work to add value for your clients but also strive to ensure the next time your client has a problem, their first instinct is to call YOUR firm first. This is the opportunity before you as a project manager.
Project managers also have the opportunity to gather business intelligence on the client’s other needs and how the firm can assist. I’ll discuss this more in a future post.
© 2011, Mark E. Calabrese