For an organization like Connamara, one that delivers custom software solutions for capital markets, project selection is of key importance. Through the nearly two decades of operating Connamara, I have landed on a philosophy of project selection and client engagement that tries to tip the balance away from projects that go sideways to those projects that have a higher probability of mutual success for the client and Connamara. In this post, I expand on the importance of all parties understanding the definition of success for the project.
Only accept projects where both we and the client have a clear understanding of what defines success
We spend a lot of time discussing project opportunities with our clients. In our initial meetings, we want to get to a place where we are aligned with the client on a mutual definition of success. In most cases the client has an idea of the success criteria for the project and assumes that we, by talking with them about the project, know the criteria too. It becomes our job to find out from the client the success criteria and not carry any of our own preconceived, unverified ideas into the project.
It is rare that only one criterion defines a successful project for the client. It could be that the client is concerned about the delivery date (most are). It could be that cost is the main concern (all clients are concerned about costs), or perhaps the client feels that an awesome user experience is required and most important, or seamless handoff of the project to internal staff is necessary and a top concern.
Most importantly, knowing and agreeing with the client on the definition of success and the priority of the criteria, Connamara and the client can manage project risks. Difficult project management decisions are made clearer and simpler; if, for example, the need arises to reduce scope or alter the priority of feature implementation to hit a key delivery date.
Knowing and keeping in mind what is truly important to the client will help clarify the decisions while maintaining a path to success.