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A better placeAre your customers thrilled with the performance of your EPMO?  Or do they hate the EPMO?  Are they lukewarm – take it or leave it?

Do you know how they feel?  How do you know their thoughts?

Maybe you don’t really know at all.

Additionally, do you have any idea of ways that your customers think the EPMO can improve?

I have two pretty good guesses for you:

  1. You don’t know how your customers feel about your EPMO
  2. You don’t know ways that your customers want you to improve

You really, really need to know those two things.

Not a good place to be for you or your EPMO.

So change it.

The answer…

You need to survey your customers after projects.  You may do post-project reviews, but I am not talking about that.  I am talking about a confidential survey sent-out by the leader of the EPMO to the members of the project team that worked with the project manager.  Ask for the project team members candid feedback.

In this survey, the project team will give the EPMO leader direct feedback that will never show-up in a post-project review.  And this feedback will tell you two things:

  1. How your customers feel about your EPMO
  2. Ways that your customers want you to improve

The exact two things that you don’t know now.

You don’t know how your customers feel about your EPMO.  You don’t know ways that your customers want you to improve.  You really, really need to know those two things.

How to get started

After a project, sit down with the project manager and identify team members that were involved in the project that will be surveyed.  Stick with team members that were involved enough in the project that they can give good feedback.  Someone that only contributed a very small amount to the project and wasn’t very involved can be left-out of the survey.

Since this was likely a cross-functional project, team members to be surveyed can be from all across the company.  You may have people from Marketing, HR, IT, Operations, etc. that all need to be surveyed.  And in some cases, people external to the company may also need to be surveyed.

Once you have decided on who to survey, you need to determine what to ask them.  I have a base survey that I use.  It can be modified as needed for a specific project, but my base survey is just 10 questions.

The 10 questions to ask your customers

For the first 6 questions, I ask for one of five responses:

  • Strongly agree
  • Inclined to agree
  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Inclined to disagree
  • Strongly disagree

Here are my 10 base questions:

  1. (PM name) was always organized and prepared
  2. (PM name) worked well with all team members
  3. (PM name) did a good job of keeping the team aware of the project schedule and status
  4. (PM name) tracked issues and action items effectively
  5. (PM name) showed the proper amount of urgency in moving the project forward
  6. (PM name) was effective at helping the team identify solutions
  7. What are the greatest strengths that you saw demonstrated by (PM name) on this project?
  8. What are the greatest improvement needs for (PM name) based on your experiences on this project?
  9. I would like to work with (PM name) on a future project (yes/no)
  10. What additional comments would you like to share about your experiences with (PM name)?

Note that question #9 is just a simple yes/no.  In a survey I always like one thumbs-up/thumbs-down question.  That way, even if the person taking the survey has improvement needs for the PM, I still want to know if they were dissatisfied enough that they would never want to work with this person again.

Sending the survey

If you have an on-line tool available for the survey (I like SharePoint) use that.  But if you don’t, you can send each person a spreadsheet and have them take the survey that way.

In the email that I send to the project team members that will take the survey, I always include a paragraph something like this:

To make you feel comfortable in providing your candid and honest feedback, I want you to know that no one other than me will see your survey responses.  This survey is going out to a number of people that worked with (PM name) on (project name) – but I will use the feedback to provide (PM name) with an overall view of the feedback, and not to share individual responses with (PM name).

Survey Results

You will be amazed at the honest feedback you will get with this survey.  Hopefully much of it is positive, but what you are most interested in are ways to help the PM improve.

When I look at the survey results, I am looking for trends.  When only one or two people mention something I don’t give that the same weight as when a large number of the respondents say something similar.  So you will have to use your judgment to determine what is valid feedback to provide the PM.

And please provide this feedback to the PM as soon as you can.  The PM is always a bit antsy knowing that feedback on them is being collected, so let them know the results as soon as possible.

The end result

Surveys let you know how your customers feel about the EPMO.  They also let you know how to improve.  They provide you with more information to evaluate the performance of the PMs, and they help your team members develop into even stronger project managers.

And when handing our recognition at the end of the project, the survey responses often have great ideas that you can use to highlight the strengths of the PM on a project.

Just 10 questions.  10 questions that will open your eyes.  10 questions that will improve your EPMO.  10 questions that will tell you how your customers view your EPMO.

So what project do you have in progress right now that you can survey when it completes?  Find one and get started.  Ask the 10 questions.  Learn.  Improve.

Become an EPMO that your customers can’t live without.

Be irreplaceable.

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