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 Agile and the PMO  Agile and the PMO   Stakeholder management   Stakeholder management

We will look at Stakeholder management shortly but for now we need to deal with how we interact with, inform and manage the expectations of the customer specifically. There are two forms of customer liaison: for the programme (Macro level and big picture) and for the project (Micro level and detailed picture).

  1. Macro Customer Liaison - MaCL
    In Macro customer liaison you are looking to communicate the status and any issues surrounding the wider programme and alignment to major business objectives and strategy with senior business personnel.
  2. Micro Customer Liaison - MiCL
    In Macro customer liaison you address the more meticulous appraisal of fine granular data and processes involved in delivering the end-to-end solutions and day to day issues regarding people and deliverables. The former is achieved by a macro understanding of the latter, by conducting stakeholder management of and detailed discussion with senior personnel and departments impacted by or awaiting output from the programme. The latter topic is dealt with in the Daily Forum but invariably a customer programme or business project manager cannot attend the Daily Forum yet they need a detailed status and risk appraisal. When this occurs the two forms of customer liaison are very often performed by the same account manager and this special opportunity will fortunately minimise the instances of disconnected communications.

Minimising the instances of disconnect is a waste removal objective and therefore an objective of the Toolkit. Therefore, if you can arrange the liaison of programme and project customer updates to be performed by the same individual then this is the optimal arrangement to reduce unnecessary effort and increase real performance. It also minimises the opportunity for wrongful communications to customers and these are circumstances to be avoided to ensure the most accurate status with no ambiguity or error. Communications on any project are important but on an agile project they are of principal importance.

This importance involves the accuracy of the Content of the communication and the Message that is planned and intended. But we also need to consider and confirm the timeliness of the message and the audit needs of the project and / or the organisation vis-à-vis corporate communication directives.

In the instances where the two forms of customer liaison are performed by two different people this represents two different opportunities for connecting to customer teams. Here, one team member is providing information about the programme, the status of the whole development, where it is up to in relation to linked programmes and projects, the principal resource issues as well as significant threats and opportunities. A different team member is dealing with the customer (possibly the same customer representative) about the day to day issues, the projects immediate successes and failures, timebox planning and the re-jigging of priority deliverables. This presents the prospect of developing and delivering two different messages. You will be aware of this possibility for false reporting and, if the different customer liaison personnel are not in attendance at the Daily Forum, they need their own catch-up to ensure they are both on message and providing the customer with supportive, accurate updates.

Naturally there will be a provisional lag between actual events and the update these two individuals will perform for each other. This will be taken into account when presenting any update to the customer. Coordination is the key and your project will benefit from timing any regular customer reporting activity to occur after their status updates are synchronised. Frankly, if duplication of communication can be avoided it should be as we follow a rigorous waste reduction strategy inherent in our agile process. However, as we outlined at the start of the Toolkit, some agile approaches blissfully ignore the thought that anyone outside the direct development team need to know anything about the status of the project. This insular walled garden approach cannot be endured in a cost conscious business environment. It is normal, natural, accepted and necessary that organisations who finance the project will want to know what their investment is adding in terms of value and what it is accomplishing in terms of performance.

Our collective agile objective, as high performance project members using the Toolkit, is to complete a delivery with minimal ceremony. This is why we cordially ask those stakeholders with interest in the process to attend and contribute to the Daily Forum sessions. Within the Toolkit, we seek to consider the holistic view of the project and its wider impact across an organisation. It is understandable to assume not everyone can attend the Daily Forum sessions and at the same time to assume that not all interested stakeholders will be at the Daily Forum sessions. Inevitably some level of communications duplication will occur. Oftentimes, allocation of personnel for the customer reporting responsibility is automatic. The project manager performs the project update and the programme manager or account manager performs the wider programme update. This may be a regular occurrence but does not have to be the standard position. The project manager is invariably a very busy person on a high velocity project and, if there is an opportunity to gain supporting assistance from other project personnel especially in a regular activity such as project updates, this should not be overlooked. If the project has an associate or an assistant project manager this is an occasion to avail of their skills in managing these relationships and taking the opportunity to delegate the project status update responsibility to them.

Let us now move onto the important topic of agile project activity and stakeholder management.


 Agile and the PMO     Agile and the PMO   Stakeholder management    Stakeholder management

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