Can you take any project manager and plop them onto any program and have it succeed? Can a project manager who is an expert at deploying Avaya IP Office deploy Microsoft Lync? Can a project manager who deploys ATT cell towers lead a Manage Service outsource project? In other words, is Project Management “one size fits all”?
At First American Business Solutions we specialize in delivering world class services. We perform deployments, upgrades, surveys and day- to-day maintenance support. All of which take project management skills.
We believe “Services” project management is different from “Product” project management and we have a specialized discipline around it. Our methodology, developed around a services only business, is designed for delivering network solutions that add business value to our customers. Services Program Management is the framework by which all our programs are planned, estimated, controlled, and tracked in a consistent manner. The program is based on the successful integration of people, process and systems.
Product focused methodologies (used by manufactures of equipment for example) is focused on the order, management and installation of hardware (servers, switches, etc.) whereas the Services Program Methodology is focused on the solution delivery.
Professional Services is a people and relationship type of business. In a product based business it is possible for the client to buy your product if they believe it is the best product on the market regardless of the support people associated with the delivery because the physical product quality is the driver of the purchase. In the services world of companies like First ABS it is not possible to separate the product from the delivery because the “people” are the product. Therefore, not only do we have to have the best product (i.e. people to deliver that solution) but we must develop a relationship with that client before we can earn their trust to purchase services from us. We must understand the client’s business drivers and benefit triggers and develop a partnership type of relationship where we are perceived as part of their team.
Case in point: Recently a potential customer we had never done business with before contacted us about purchasing a block of hours for Tier 3 emergency technical support. We provided a bid with a reasonable price for 200 hours for 7×24 support. About a week later, that customer called with an emergency about a key site that had a switch outage. Without a PO and without any commitment we immediately assigned the outage to an engineer who resolved the issue remotely within an hour! To say the customer was pleased was an understatement. As a result of that effort and the trust that was built, we received a PO for the full order within two weeks and we believe this is a start to a long lasting customer relationship. This is an example of the “art” of project management.
Conclusion: Services project management recognizes that there is both an art and a science to Project Management. The Science is the traditional “Initiate, Plan, Deploy and Close” tactical part of project management. The Art is the “people” part of project management. The Art focuses on the client: understanding their business, their revenue drivers, and how our solution will help them to be more successful. Being flexible to the client’s always changing needs and leveraging knowledge from prior programs is key to the success of First ABS’ project management. With our approach we strive to understand the customers’ business drivers from a strategic perspective, cultivate that relationship and then drive it down to the individual project for that client.