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Beyond Complete: Success is Making a Lasting Positive Impact

What is “success” to you? Imagine yourself working on a project. The project is on-time and on-budget. All of the requirements have been met. But, how successful have you been with the project? Have you made a lasting impact with your customers? Are they eager to work with you on the next project? Are they recommending your work to others?

Reaching the Destination May Require an Unexpected Route

A customer engagement is not just about meeting the common standard measurements of success (on-time, on-budget, etc.), but is about partnering with your customers to predictably deliver what is needed for them to be successful in their business. It is about anticipating what the customer needs. It is about the courage to deliver a difficult message when you discover that the recommended solution is not going to deliver the desired results, even if you fear that you’ll be perceived as having made a mistake. And, it is about being flexible in your approach so you resolve issues instead of worrying about meeting a plan that you know is not working.

One of the most successful projects that I’ve worked on was neither “on-time” nor “on-budget” and the final delivered solution was significantly different than what was requested in the original requirements. Yet, the project was considered a success – the customer was extremely happy with the results and continued to engage with my company and team for additional work.

127385974_4c9b5e3acf_mFulfilling a True Need

What made this project successful?  Our team partnered with the customer to understand what the true needs of the project were. In the middle of the project, we determined that while we could deliver to the original commitments, the solution that the customer would have received would not have met the customer’s needs. Instead of continuing to deliver to the flawed plan, the team alerted the customer to the issues and worked with them to restructure the plan to deliver a solution that better met their needs.

Was the re-planning painful? Of course it was. As more information was uncovered, we actually restructured the project and the sub-teams twice during the project life cycle. So, in addition to keeping the client satisfied, there were also challenges in keeping the team focused and delivering quality. However, the end result was worth the pain in the middle of the project. The final solution delivered the value that the customer needed within the necessary time frame. The team was able to celebrate a successful delivery.

If we had stuck to the original plan, the team could have delivered the project on-time and on-budget. We would have met all the requirements of the project. It is even possible that we could have gotten future work from the customer. However, the customer’s perception of us would have been just another consulting company that they could use for work if needed.

Instead, by not delivering on-time or on-budget, but by predictably delivering value with “no surprises”, we became a trusted advisor to our customer and they became enthusiastic advocates of our company and our people.

What does “no surprises” mean to you? When have you changed the course resulting in a win for all?

Photo Credit: Olivier Bareau

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Category: Defining Success, For Practitioners, Requirements Definition