Button, button - who's got the button?

So you’re doing a defined piece of work for a Client, you have one client contact and out of the blue of the internet skies, you start getting questions from multiple 3rd parties about projects they’re working for the client – projects related to your work only tangentially if at all.

You gradually realize…

  • Your client contact is very pressed for time – well, who isn’t? – and to un-press some of it they are employing the time-tested strategy of telling anyone with any questions about their web properties or processes to call you.
  • Everyone who has done so has little or no visibility over the other players and initiatives. Not only does the left hand not know what the right hand is doing, the left hand doesn’t know there IS a right hand.

Congratulations! You’ve just become the defacto project manager of a project that has not been defined and isn’t being managed – oh, and btw, no budget has been allocated ;-)

And our first bit of advice is that you should avoid such situations. Since that isn’t always possible, here are a few rules:

  • Know what you know – Yes, we’re channeling former Secretary Rumsfeld a bit but when you’re in a multi-player environment, it doesn’t help anybody to give them incomplete or incorrect information. So, before jumping in, review your knowledge base and be sure you are giving good counsel. If you don’t KNOW what version of SQL is in use in the Clients’ legacy ERP app on their soon to be retired WIN2003 server don’t guess. Take the time to refer to your documentation.
  • Know who are talking too – Couple of things here which should be obvious but are often not attended two:

1) Verify, verify, verify – Before you share anything with a new consultant or player on a project, get written authorization to do so from your Client. Ideally, this would include a description of the type of information that has been requested and confirmation you are authorized to share it.

2) Simplify, simplify, simplify – Let’s say another identity firm is doing a facelift on the client’s obscure CMS, the Client’s host is upgrading their legacy server to handle the current version or update security and you are working with those players and the Client’s IT resources on a new application that will touch or be touched by all these efforts. Simply put, tell people only what they need to know in terms that will make sense to them and their efforts. You don’t get points for knowing where all the bodies are buried and telling everyone so in grisly detail.

3) Scope, Scope, Scope – Assisting with coordination of these multiple initiatives and providing the necessary backgrounders is something that of course you are happy to do, but this will eat into your time as well and since time is your inventory, when you contact your client about 1) above, you might also want to mention that this sort of consultation is out of original scope...