Month: February 2012

Project Management in an Agency Model: Acting as a Steward (Part 5)

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Another thing worth mentioning about project management in an agency model; things tend to get busy during Q1!  After quite a few weeks of business-imposed hiatus, I’m back to finishing up this post.

To get us caught up, in reviewing Project Management in an Agency Model we’ve covered the opportunity available to project managers, what it means to manage the project experience and how knowing the business impacts your ability to add value to your client, your firm and your own brand/career.  In this installment, we’ll talk about what it means to act as a steward to your client and your firm.

A quick check of www.dictionary.com defines ‘steward’ as “a person who manages another’s property or financial affairs.”  This is your role as the project manager.  You are responsible for advising your client on how to best manage their project investment to successfully solve their business problems.  By so doing, you are also helping manage your client’s reputation within their firm and, depending on the scope of the project, within their industry.

As trusted advisor and steward to your client, the best approach is to treat their problems, their investment and their reputation as if they were yours.  Your knowledge of the product or service you are implementing, as well as your understanding of their business and industry puts you in a unique position to help your clients achieve success.  Partner with them, taking the attitude that this is also your project and while you are aligned with your client, their interests and yours are one in the same.

Likewise, you are a steward and advisor to your own firm.  As noted previously, every word you speak or write, every conversation, every meeting, even how you hang up the phone at the end of a conference call builds on your firm’s brand and reputation.  As with your client, treat your firm’s brand and reputation as your own.

The same is true with your firm’s money.  As the project manager, you have an opportunity to drive profitability (especially in a fixed fee model) by managing your project in such a way as to make the best use out of every hour spent.  By managing your project efficiently, you not only maximize the output from the team but you can also free up enough time to allow team resources to focus on other billable work.

You also are in a good position to leverage the firm’s primary investment – talent.  How you manage your project team, how you deal with conflicts and issues internally, all help brand you, your PMO team and your delivery organization within the firm.  By focusing on making not only your project, but everyone associated with the project successful, you contribute to making your firm a great place to work.  This is how you can help keep your firm’s top talent WITH YOUR FIRM.

Ultimately, the best thing you can bring to your clients and your firm is your solid commitment to uphold and live out your values as a project management professional.  Acting as a steward and trusted advisor makes you effective at delivering on your specific tactical objectives, but also makes you a major strategic asset to your firm in retaining both clients and talent.  Act as a steward, focusing on making your peers and clients successful.

© 2011, Mark E. Calabrese

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