Ensuring project success, tips for engaging leadership

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where the project you are leading is not getting the proper level of executive/leadership support or engagement?  Have you ever wondered how you can increase the level of executive/leadership engagement to ensure project success? 

To successfully complete a Strategic IT project, or any project for that matter, it is imperative that you have engagement and support from the leaders of the organization/project.  As you all know, executives/leaders control and influence resources and budgets; therefore, as Project Managers we need to ensure that we are meeting their expectations and effectively managing risk throughout the life of the project.  Following are some tips for engaging with executives/leadership and ensuring success for your project.

While planning a project, before kickoff, I often like to meet one on one with key executives/leaders to review goals & scope and clearly define the support that is needed from them and their respective team throughout the project.  While meeting with leadership before the project begins, I also like to discuss their project concerns and work with them to identify risks and mitigation plans.  This upfront proactive project work creates relationships and confidence in you, the Project Manager, and will ultimately pay dividends as the project progresses and issues arise.

During the kickoff of a project, I like to ensure that all identified project team members are present, including sponsors (executives/leaders), core team members, and other key stakeholders.  During the project kickoff meetings, it is imperative to ensure that you are clearly defining goals/milestones, scope, project team roles & responsibilities, and communication plans.  In order to ensure executive alignment and support, I frequently ask leadership to reiterate the importance of the project and how it supports the overall company’s strategy during the kickoff meeting.  If you can gain this type of support up front from executives/leadership and they can clearly communicate the importance of the project to the rest of the team, it goes a long way to ensuring project success right out of the gate.

If you find yourself struggling with executive/leadership engagement during an in-flight project, it is important to regain their support/engagement as quickly as possible.  This can often be a tricky situation, but for the success of the project it is critical that you keep project leadership engaged and on your side.  To do this, I recommend requesting recurring and/or one off meetings to discuss the importance of the project and where you continue to require their support.  During these types of discussions, I also like to ask leadership for feedback on how the project is proceeding.  These types of discussions can often help you identify the root cause of any issues that leadership may be encountering and will give you a good opportunity to instill confidence that you are managing their concerns and to get them re-aligned with the rest of the project team.    

Managing expectations of the executive/leadership on Projects can often be a daunting and challenging duty; however, to ensure project success it is one of the most important responsibilities that we Project Managers have. 

If you need assistance/guidance in improving executive communication and overall IT Project Management, please reach out (to Heath Kight) to learn how I may be of assistance.

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