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Banner to project manager post "tears of a broken project"

20 years of combined project management, graphic & website design experience.  Having worked on small to multimillion dollar projects, I have seen the best and worst of project builds.  I’m always coaching clients on how to implement project management into their business to protect their projects.

Author - Bernice Jackson
Writer for Rise of Dark Dawn

"Tears of a Broken Project"

Scope of Work Statement (SOW) Protects
The Business and the Client

Project Management is near and dear to my heart. It is a tool that is truly powerful in keeping the peace between businesses and clients, as well as, keeping everyone on the same page.

The following example is a sad but true story example of what can happen with no scope of work to hold anyone accountable for the work anticipated to be completed (names in this story has been changed). Having someone take advantage of someone else’s lack of knowledge and newness to owning a business is heartbreaking. Yet, it has happened with several clients and so I hope this post helps both businesses and consumers on their next projects. These situations put a lot of pressure on the next service providers to be hand holders, therapists, comforters and cheerleaders to get through the project build.

Torrey’s Kickoff Meeting

A client hired Rise of Dark Dawn to re-vamp her website. After signing the scope of work contract, the Project Manager (PM) assigned to Torrey scheduled an introduction call to begin the project kickoff.  The conversation started light and airy with a few laughs. Torrey had so much excitement in her tone as she stated what her vision and mission was for her business. She really beamed as she described her products and how they are helping so many people. Torrey explained that her adult kids encouraged her to live her dream now and they would be there to assist her. A proud mom just glowing on camera. It was plain to see the joy and pride Torrey felt.

Torrey talked about the difficulties she had with the previous website designer, John, keeping her in the loop, responsiveness to her emails and calls. John refused to show her previews until he finished the entire website.  According to Torrey, John stated she could make changes afterward.  (Do you, the reader, see anything wrong with this?) It was clear she was becoming more and more irritated as the story progressed, so the PM changed the topic to talk about how wonderful this journey was going to be with Rise of Dark Dawn, in an attempt, to redirect her thoughts.

The PM began to review the project management plan, timelines, communication flow, meeting dates & time and expectations from the SOW to ensure the client knew what to expect over the course of the project and to remind her of the listed deliverables that was signed off on in the SOW.

Tears of a Broken Project

Banner to project manager post "tears of a broken project"The Project Manager (PM) then opened up Torrey’s website, with her, to explain the several issues, concerns and the plan of action to her. As the PM proceeded through each page to show Torrey her website was non-ADA compliant, no storyline, broken links, lead to nowhere buttons, wrong product information, no checkout page was setup, etc., the excitement and smile on Torrey’s face began to change. The PM noticed and asked Torrey if she was ok and she replied, “I’m fine. Continue”.  As the review continued, Torrey became more fidgety and began looking away from the screen. When Torrey turned back to the screen the PM noticed tears welled up in her eyes then she began crying.  Torrey hands covered her face as she exhaled loudly. The PM thought this was strange as the client knew something was wrong, which is why she is here.

Torrey was asked again if she was ok, and would she like to reschedule? Torrey vomited, “I gave him over $3000 dollars to build my website, and this is what I got! Then he asked for more money when I wanted changes; he said I could make. John said that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to charge me for those changes. And I told him he didn’t mention charges when he offered the changes! I knew the website was ugly, but I did not know it was this messed up. You know John got mad at me for wanting him to fix the issues without giving him more money. I felt he did not deliver a good website for the money I already paid. I feel really stupid”.

Time to Process to Begin Anew

The PM closed the website review screen and gave Torrey a moment to collect herself. “Let’s stop a minute and just talk about what you are feeling right now because you won’t be able to focus nor enjoy this new path you are on until you make peace with yesterday”, said the PM.  Being customer centered is very important to Rise of Dark Dawn and should be to any business.

Seeing and recognizing when your client is in a crisis or having a moment then acknowledging that you see them, shows you value your customer beyond the sale. That is not to say you should be your client’s therapist, but just empathetic when needed. Especially when you are building trust where trust was broken.

Being time driven, the PM already decided, internally, to allot up to 10 minutes to be a listening ear for Torrey to vent. This was more than enough time to access what Torrey was saying, letting her purge just a bit, and hopefully let her complete the grieving stage so she can see her new dawn.

Torrey proceeded with venting about what happened between her and John and the concerns she was starting to have about moving forward with the reconstruction of her website with Rise of Dark Dawn. At the 8 min mark, Torrey finally paused and began wiping her face. This was the perfect opportunity for the PM to take charge of the conversation.

Building Trust Where Trust Was Broken

No business nor person likes to be judged based on what someone else did wrong. Rebuilding what was not broken by you can be difficult at times. picture of rock climbingYou as the business owner have to determine if that journey will be worth your patience level, your time and your company’s reputation. Earning trust is difficult enough when getting to know a new client but getting around the noise of a broken project will be a hard climb on rough terrain. The care taking and constant, ‘trust me’ mantra will begin to sound like a scratched record. Make sure you evaluate all possible risks and risk responses of taking on this kind of client to ensure you can add value to this new journey. 

The PM found a good place to cut into Torrey’s story. The PM asked Torrey do she mind if she asks her a few questions. The PM asked, “Torrey what did the scope of work contract list as the deliverables to be completed”? Torrey replied, “we did not have a contract.” The PM asked, “Torrey what was the synopsis or description of the work John stated he was going to complete”? Torrey replied, “John emailed me and told me how experienced he was, and he would build me a website to fit my brand”. The PM asked, “Torrey were there any specific details he confirmed, in an email, he would do like responsiveness, integrations, banners, graphics, content creation, SEO, etc.”? Torrey became agitated with the questioning and stated no. “I have never heard of those things until I saw your SOW,” Torrey stated. “One more question. What was the plan for the project closeout to walk through your website before launch,” asked the PM? Torrey replied, “John just emailed me the log in information and said it was finished.”

The Harsh Truth

The PM paused and began by telling Torrey she was not stupid for not knowing what she did not know. “There are just processes you may not have been aware of, so some details were missed or not defined properly.

Now I can’t speak to John because I don’t know him, so I can’t begin to tell you about his procedures and processes. I can only tell you that Rise of Dark Dawn believes in transparency and being held accountable for work listed in the SOW provided to you. The scope of the work statement protects both the business and the client.  The SOW allows us to follow the project management plan to ensure that we are all on the same page with completing the work listed out. Things get forgotten as time goes past but the SOW keeps what was discussed on lock”, explained the PM.

The PM informed Torrey that if John’s only deliverable was to build a website, then that deliverable was met.  The PM went on to explain, “You confirmed there was no contract listing out the deliverables so John could be held accountable for that work neither a review as you go process nor communication plan. Neither You nor John confirmed if changes were needed, once the project was complete, there would be an additional cost. Although expensive, this was just a learning curve for you Torrey. We all have those life happen moments.”

Now going forward, no matter small or big a project is, you should get something in writing or electronically, confirming exactly what work is going to be completed, for what costs and how contract changes (amendments) will be handled. Don’t be afraid to research before committing and negotiate”, explained the PM. The PM recommended they reschedule for another day so she can take a moment to process. Torrey agreed and so the meeting was rescheduled.

BEFORE YOU START A PROJECT…


Incorporate Project Management
Planning Into The Project

Here are some quick definitions to get you started. Details of incorporating project management will come in future courses and posts.

Scope Management

  • Is the process of defining what work is required and then making sure all of that work – and only that work is completed
  • The scope of work must be clearly defined and formally approved by ALL stakeholders before work starts

Once the business case is completed, you need to define the project’s objective, how communication will flow, the deliverables, expectations of all stakeholders, the scope, schedule, budget baselines to start.

This is the responsibility of both the business owner and the client.  Business owners should operate with integrity, but clients should express as clearly as possible what their vision is for their project.

The Scope Synopsis or Definition

“The scope definition is a brief detailed synopsis of what the project work is. The scope definition is used to build out the deliverables for the scope of work statement”. Ensure you at least create a detailed definition that goes beyond “I’m going to build you a website to fit your brand”. What exactly does that even mean? That is like saying, “I’m going to build you a house”. Well, what kind of house, out of what material, what size, where, what resources are needed, etc. No matter how big or small, the details should be thought about in proactive and not reactive process.  

'The details will be shown in the proof of work completed'

This information will be used to build out the SOW contract, so all stakeholders are receiving the same message, the same way, at the same time. This work will leave no room for confusion nor ambiguity of who, what, when, where, and why.

Agile Methodology

One of the methodologies in project management is called Agile project management. Agile project management breaks projects down into small scheduled phases (pit stops) called sprints. Based on your industry or company culture, what kind of review that is performed during these sprints can vary. Sprint dynamics include looking back over the work completed up to that point to:

  • Review work done, sometimes with the client (clients should request this), and correct concerns early versus waiting weeks to months or after project close (ain’t nobody trying to redo a whole project)
  • Test, discover, fix errors in programming, design, etc. (industry specific)
  • Review the scope, budget, and schedule baselines to check for scope creep
  • Make any adjustments needed for the next sprint

Summing It Up

When working on new projects make sure everyone understands what is happening with the project build out, what work is going to be done, who is responsible for it and so forth before the project launches. Flying by the seat of your pants and hoping for things to work out is just not good business.

Rise of Dark Dawn Team

Rise of Dark Dawn Team

We don’t endorse or sponsor any guest writer or business spotlight. 

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Bernice Jackson
Editor & Writer for Rise of Dark Dawn

We at Rise of Dark Dawn are dedicated to bringing you stories that are motivating and educational to grow your business.

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