Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Project Management – The Language Barrier

Would you go to a foreign country without learning a bit of the language or understanding the culture? No probably not, or if you did, then you would be at risk from looking slightly ignorant or embarrassed every time you tried to order a drink! Project Management can work in the same way and it’s essential to understand the language that’s spoken by those that you’re working with both within your own organisation and perhaps more importantly, with the client.

This doesn’t of course mean that for a Project Manager to speak to a Customer Insight colleague they need to have detailed knowledge of how to build a propensity model, understand neural networks or determine the most appropriate regression model. But, it does help if they can have dialogue which the ‘analysts’ are comfortable with and translates well to the client. If language and terminology is used that the Project Manager doesn’t understand, they shouldn’t dismiss it as a foreign language, they should attempt to talk ‘pigeon analytics’ until a common ground is found. I’m sure you’ve all been on holiday trying to order that dish from the menu that you have no idea what it is, but with a bit of patience from you and the native waiter, you work it out together.

Once the language is established and understood, the Project Manager can then be clear when detailing the clients’ requirements. It is essential that these are understood and consensus is reached to be confident that project efficiency is maximised. When managing a Print and Fulfilment campaign, it’s essential that the correct inserts go with the correct personalised letter – it matters to that individual what is received. Or another analogy would be to go back to the international dish, if you don’t understand what that foreign ingredient is – then on your taste buds be it!

Should any problems arise through the course of a project, the Project Manager is responsible for working the challenge through with the person who will essentially resolve it whether that is the client or internal colleagues. This will have a positive impact as the solution will support the overall project objectives and also enhance understanding. When managing a Database Marketing project, decisions and choices can be vast and the wrong one made through miscommunication could have a big impact of the overall deliverables.

As our core business is Customer Relationship Management, the skills required to work efficiently and effectively with clients and colleagues alike are ingrained in all our Project Management staff. A Project Manager needs to have skills to perform a range of duties from sales, to accountancy, to business analysis and even diplomacy as well as a firm understanding of the importance of when in a service department, do as that service department does!