If you’re hosting a dinner party with multiple courses that need to be timed perfectly, you’d map out your plan ahead of time, with all of the details necessary to ensure your dessert is not served before the main course is even finished cooking. The same is true of executive customer programs, which require strong program planning followed by flawless execution in order to deliver an engaging and memorable experience.
I’ve previously discussed the importance of process in Customer Advisory Boards and time and time again I am reminded of how critical process and planning are to any customer engagement program.
Avoid fire drills. Project plans create structure that enable teams to work toward the end goal in a smooth fashion. Without a plan that includes interim milestones and deadlines and clear owners you will find yourself and your teams falling behind. For better or worse, most of us work best under deadline pressure – a project plan can create that interim deadline pressure to ensure that once you are needing to do an executive review, you are ready. Include regularly scheduled checkpoints in your project plan – they provide routine times to align on content and work out any roadblocks to progress that may pop up.
Who’s on first? I often think that working without a project plan is similar to that “Who’s on First?” comedy routine made famous by Abbott and Costello. How do you know who is doing what when? Clearly defined workstreams with due dates and assigned parties responsible for delivery help drive teams forward and avoids having multiple people working on the same effort or worse yet, nobody working on something!
Get to the finish line. While the date of the meeting or event is obvious, without a project plan how does a team know if they are 30%, 60% or 90% to completion? Deliverables, milestones and owners laid out in a clear plan, help teams to determine if the program is leading or lagging and provide a view to areas that may need additional support.
These are just three of many reasons why project planning is imperative to the success of any program – I’ll be sharing more in future posts.