352 Inc. / Digital Strategy / February 15th, 2012

5 Tips to Avoiding Icebergs on Projects

Our VP of Sales, Don Wedington, had a great metaphor on client projects: Focus on avoiding icebergs. Icebergs are those things that come up and sink your ship on a project. They could be a large iceberg thatbrings things crashing with just one hit or a series of small icebergs that slowly chip away at your hull. Even the seemingly smoothest projects hit icebergs along the way, but in my almost 4 years of experience in project management, I’ve found 5 easy things you can do to avoid you icebergs on your project:

1.Be proactive

I can’t stress this enough. Being proactive on your projects will help you fix a problem before it even becomes a problem. Look into the future, build your client relationship, and keep an eye out for red flags. If you can show your clients that you are looking out for their future issues you can build their confidence and grow your relationship.


2.Confront issues
There’s nothing worse than avoiding an issue. Honesty is key with clients and even if they are unhappy about the bad news you are delivering today, they’d rather find out now instead of a week from now when the news is even worse. Prepare them, and you can avoid frustration and mistrust.


3.Put quality first
Quality is the one thing that will always frustrate customers. If you want to avoid that frustration, make sure your product and your customer service is the highest possible quality. If it comes down to it, you should always sacrifice a deadline for a higher quality: Always. Clients will appreciate that you want to give them a better product the first time around rather than do multiple rounds of revisions that will end up further extending your timeline.


4.Listen to your client

Many icebergs that get hit along the way are a product of not listening to your client’s needs and wants. Clients want to be heard and understood: It’s their project, and they want to be involved. If you can do that and do it well, you can avoid misunderstandings down the road that would otherwise cause you to abandon ship.


5.Show innovation

You can avoid a lot of issues by showing creativity and expertise. Though you need to listen to your client, don’t take what they say for granted and run with it. Challenge their thinking. Expand their minds to new technologies. Make sure what they want makes sense to the end user. That’s why they came to you in the first place, and ultimately those are the people who are going to make and break the success of what you are building.

Following these things will help you avoid issues and make for a successful project. That or you could follow the lead of our marketing department who took the whole iceberg metaphor in their own direction:

 

 Totally your call.