I plan to write a blog to talk about the dragon wall I did for my oldest son a while back, but my youngest son recently told me that he wanted a dragon wall as well, AND he wanted it to be different than his brother’s. Awesome! He wants to be like his older brother, but he still wants to put his own stamp on things. Early on, the project seemed pretty straight-forward, but it soon became apparent that THIS Project was going to allow me to talk about a very important issue in Project Management.
So what’s the big challenge here, right? How hard can it be to paint a dragon on a wall? Well, MY first requirement on all of my Projects is that the clients feel like they are being heard–even if that client is a 5 year old! In this particular task, my wife and I were very careful to include my son in the decision-making process. This is a great way to make him feel like the ‘client,’ AND a great lesson for me in requirements gathering under less-than-optimal conditions. My son knows what he wants, and he’s not shy about talking about it. However, he’s so young that communicating his wishes clearly enough so I fully understand them is difficult to say the least. Which brings us to…
The Project Tip of the Post!
It is NOT the responsibility of the Client to make sure the Project Manager understands the requirements, because Clients may not have the technical knowledge to fully and accurately detail them. It is the Project Manager’s responsibility to gain AND CONFIRM full understanding of the Client’s requirements. If you–as the PM–are unclear on the requirements, then how can you possibly drive a Project towards success?
Right now, you may be asking, “How do I know when I have full understanding?” There is no panacea here. You just have to fully involve the Client in the early part of the process–and you have listen, repeat back, ask questions, document decisions and repeat until you and the Client can both agree on the list. You HAVE to solidify the definition of success, otherwise, you’ll ALWAYS be aiming at a moving target.
OK, so back to the new dragon wall…Here are the key steps we took to make sure we understood what our young client wanted.
- We went online with the little guy and looked at images for dragon templates and let him choose his favorite.
- I printed it out, and then we took it into his room so he could describe things like: which way the head was pointing and how much of the wall he wanted the dragon to cover.
- We asked him to color the template with crayons and markers.
- I then sat with him and his colored drawing and asked him questions about what we saw.
- From there, I made sure to hit all the major things he wanted while still trying to make the dragon look like an actual dragon…Five year olds are VERY creative 🙂
In the end, he really likes it, and I do, too. I’m going to call this one a success!