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Maximizing End User Engagement In Project Management

solutions-and-problemsYou’re put in charge of a major project and immediately start assessing how you will deliver the output.

Reviewing the project brief, meeting with stakeholders, assembling your team and assessing resource requirements as you plan the roadmap to deliver the outcome.

How often do you consider the ultimate group of stakeholders – the end users?

Traditional PM methodology has become more empathetic to the input end users can provide, but the blunt reality is, that in practice, this is little more than lip service.

Consideration of how real-life end users will interact and adopt your deliverables is the true acid test of how successful you are in managing the production of a successful outcome.

If you accept this premise, then the question is how do you engage the end user, especially the broader community you cannot possibly interact, with given the time and resource constraints you will no doubt be operating under?

Here are some thoughts on the matter:

Communication is Crucial

As soon as you can. Provide end user groups with UI access to the client side. Let them see the visual tools you are expecting to deliver as soon as is practical.

Ensure your end user groups are engaged at the earliest opportunity, and keep them updated on the training and documentation you expect to deliver prior to full deployment.

Training to be Delivered

What training is going to be offered? Typically you will have the power users who want to move forward and are technically proficient and motivated to embrace whatever you pit in front of them, but how does this affect the broad adoption curve?

There are two issues here – gaining power users, or evangelists, and being able to engage the horde of users to adopt and actually gain benefit from what you are delivering.

Users of any persuasion are usually concerned over the training that will be delivered. Make sure you have a game plan to deal with how users will be trained up on a new process, program or service you are delivering.

Communicate your Vision and Progress

Create and invite an end user group in the early stages of the project, and don’t leave it until you have something for them to play with. Communicating the project, and providing transparent progress will help them to become the evangelicals you will want when you go live.

Have your end user group participate in communications programs, both internally to the project team and stakeholders, and also more widely to the rest of the organization.

With respect to communication tools, sending out a business-wide email is not always the best way to deliver information (though frequently you will have no choice, especially in a larger organization). Try delivering your message and progress via presentations to key groups of your target audience, create blogs and newsletters (but make sure they are posted to on a set editorial schedule, so staff know when to expect them) and finally, look at posters and other distributed media used within the business.

By engaging end users at the earliest possible stage, you gain from feedback and insight directly from that stakeholder group you ought to be most concerned about – the people who will actually use the delivered product, service or process from your project delivery efforts.

Jane Wrythe is a business and technology writer who currently is focusing on Lean BPM solutions, notably JobTraq.

Posted in Social Media Tools.

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