Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Take Your Project to the CEO

As project managers, we often wish there was a way to ‘get our way’ on our projects. Get the resources we want, secure the proper equipment for testing, and maybe increase the project budget to get the entire team onsite for a project milestone celebration with the customer. But, alas, we’re so busy with the day-to-day management of our project – and it may be one of several projects that we’re leading at any given time – that we don’t have the time or energy to make too much noise about it. If only there was a way to make things easier to get what we ‘need’ for our projects – and to sometimes just get the things we ‘want’, too.

What we find often is that in order to get things accomplished for our projects and on our projects and to gain the visibility we need to get there, there are some steps we need to take on our own. We essentially must ‘market’ our product to get the things we need for it to help ensure its success and to help ensure the overall satisfaction of our customer on the engagement. And there’s no better person or persons in power to market your project to than the CEO or top-level senior leadership within your company. The three proactive actions that I’ve found to work best for me are discussed below.

Send your project status report to senior management

A very easy first step is to include your CEO or senior management on your regularly weekly status report distribution. As long as they have your status report on a regular basis then they know who you are, who your customer is, and what’s going on with your project on a weekly basis. That’s probably 100% more visibility than most of the projects in the organization.

If your CEO knows your project and knows your needs, then you’re more likely to get their attention when issues arise – like resource availability or technology needs. You’ll be seen as proactive and on top of your project and you’ll be surprised how quickly help will be on its way when needed.

Have the CEO or other senior management attend a status meeting

Invite the CEO – or some level of senior management – to your next status meeting. Think of a reason – any reason – that will get them there. Maybe an important issue is being discussed that requires a key decision and you’d like to have them hear about it and be involved.

By getting the CEO involved in your status call with the customer you will be serving two purposes that will help your project from this point forward. 1) Your CEO or senior leadership will be even more aware of you and your project further entrenching their interest in your project’s well-being. And 2) the customer’s satisfaction level will immediately rise because now they think their project is important enough to your organization to warrant this type of personal involvement from the top. Not many projects get that – but then not many project managers go to this level of effort to make it happen.

Invite the customer to your site

One more thing you can do is to invite the customer to your site if they are not local or if this is not already a common occurrence. Invite them for a tour, or a face-to-face meeting with your leadership, or possibly even a disaster recovery demonstration by your IT staff if that’s relevant to what you’re doing for them on this engagement.

Bringing the customer onsite can definitely boost the profile of your project within the organization because there will be some specific preparation that will have to happen and likely some post-visit follow-up and communication between the customer and your senior leadership.


I’m certain there are many more ways you can make your project more visible – these are just three. However, gaining the attention and involvement of senior leaders in the company in your project – in a good way rather just when disaster strikes – can bring instant visibility to your project. And once that happens, it’s far easier to gain help with resource and technology acquisition, project funding, and the general knocking down of those annoying roadblocks that often get in the way of our project and a successful end solution.

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