Seven Habits of Highly Effective Project Managers

by De Ana Thompson, Director, New Product & Business Development & Installation, Xerox Local Government Solutions

As a project manager, it is important to have a plan that includes a detailed project management plan, post project evaluations and lessons learned. All three of these should be documented to be referenced for future projects and improving performance.  We need to take more time to analyze and evaluate where we could improve our performance and add value.

Below is a sampling of some of the valuable lessons we have learned in providing government records management (GRM) systems across the United States:

  1. Prioritize task accessibility – We have learned the importance of meeting the expectations of the user—and that following through on our promises is of upmost importance. Having things happen when a user expects them to happen is a must in an office. Understanding the daily workflow and the current use of the software allows us to know how to prioritize the accessibility of the functionality depending on the user. Most critical tasks should be easily accessible and prominent, and secondary functionality should not upstage the primary purpose.
  2. Manage learning and expectations – The introduction of new upgraded processes, functionality and technologies can have an unsettling effect on the staff, which if not addressed will hamper use and acceptance of the upgraded system. Functionality is rendered useless if users are not trained on how to use it or are not aware that the functionality exists. Our new training programs are designed to alleviate any reservation that staff and the public may have in using the new systems and technologies, to promote user acceptance, and to enhance productivity.
  3. Understand that training users requires flexibility and patience – The combination of experienced staff, hands-on learning opportunities, and detailed user tutorials/documentation ensure that all users with access to the system are fully able to perform their tasks and competently interface with the public.
  4. Create solutions that meet clients’ needs – This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s a good reminder that solutions require flexibility, scalability, mobility, practicality, feasibility, proficiency, reliability and ease of use. Functionality should require minimal steps so it does not become too cumbersome. The system must easily adapt to legislative, regulatory, political, administrative and workflow changes at any given time.
  5. Create a successful team – It is critical that we work very closely with the subject matter experts to ensure that we have all the essential risks identified. The success of any solution is dependent on a commitment from everyone. As a result, we enlist input from subject matter experts from all areas that affect a successful implementation. This can include: business process experts, IT experts from both Xerox and the client, security and disaster recovery experts, administrative or policy experts, and legislative or political experts.
  6. Effectively manage change – We have learned that change is not always easy for everyone and some are actually resistant to it. We consider the impacts of changing processes, screens, hot keys, terminology, physical locations, and so on and have become better equipped to get full support of the overall project from the very start—including engaging users early, getting buy-in, maintaining transparency, updating them on progress, and empowering them by listening to their needs and comments.
  7. Implement based on what you have learned – We have learned that experience in the collection of data, understanding the repository or repositories of data, analysis of data, knowledge of transferring data and the implementation method are essential and critical to achieve successful system implementation.

So what do these lessons mean for you? As an active participant in the project management process, you should speak up about what you have learned about your organization through earlier implementations. Is there anyone who should be a part of the team that isn’t? What are potential hazards to avoid along the way?This references the sixth habit in Steven R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Synergize. Both individuals and organizations benefit from the synergies of working together. In other words, “two heads are better than one.”

People often think that post project planning and lessons learned are filled with negatives, but it’s also important to document positives for what has worked and why it worked well. Using what you have learned will help both your organization and ours to successfully implement the solution.

For more information on government records management, go to www.xerox.com/grm.

 

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