Goals, those little targets we all make to help drive us forward, motivate us to reach accomplishment, or perhaps just keep us focused. Pick your poison, either way I have always felt haunted by goals, as though unless achieved, they will be the death of me. Melodramatic perhaps, but nonetheless my genuine experience. This being said, I still firmly believe in the value goals bring to all aspects in life, none more so that work.
Goals can drive the actions we take in our lives; from childhood to adulthood, they play a central role. Therefore, solving my problem of goals generating anxiety rather than excitement has been a journey, though I can confidently say I am the master of my goals now. In the workplace and business in general, to take on a more serious role, I had to make peace with goals and change my mindset towards them.
At Slash, we approach goals by explaining first what success would look like. This ensures all project stakeholders are on the same page from the onset. This is key to many things, for example managing expectations, and will see that the goals serve you rather than weigh you down. Herein I will recount the 4 types of goals I believe most important for a successful digital project. Let’s dive in!
Timeline, Scope, Milestones, Budget
To kick things off I’d like to begin with a spattering of goals, team goals specifically, that all coincide neatly with one another; this is the project timeline, scope, milestones & budget. It goes without saying that to reach achievement you must be able to finish on time, within budget with few to no major scope changes while clearly hitting all milestones along the way. Don’t misunderstand, scope change is not a problem and can happen with success afterwards; just be mindful of how much the scope is changing and its effect on the goals. If you set out to build a dining table and you end up with a park bench, is this reaching your goal?
At the beginning of the project it’s good to take stock of the team and all the members included. Some members may be new to the team or working together for the first time, and others may be in roles they have not experienced previously. Why do I mention this? Because it all connects to the goals of timeline, scope, milestones & budget. The team is key to seeing these goals through so I always start with explaining to them what success will look like once we achieve it. This will help each member better grasp the big picture and end result we’re working towards together rather than focusing solely on individual goals one at a time. This will ultimately lead to smashing your goals and watching the team grow precipitously while each member masters their respective roles overcoming obstacles and challenges along the way.
Next is the relationship goal. At the beginning of the project, it’s important for the client to communicate with the delivery team to establish the type of relationship they will have; vice versa as well for the team. Now you’re likely wondering how this can be done with all the various team members. Well in the case of this goal, the focus is for the client to establish a general relationship with the delivery team and a closer relationship with the Product Owner as they will be the client’s main point of contact.
The team needs to recognize the importance of the relationship with the client; they may be focused on coding, but this does not negate the value and need to genuinely interact and connect with the client from time to time during the project. It’s important to include all team members in the product development journey with the client; this will aid with them taking more ownership in their tasks which leads to improved work results for the team. The team builds internal relationships to boost communication and relies on the PO to a degree to bridge the gap to the client. Are you beginning to see the clever interconnection of goals?
The stronger and more interconnected the relationships are, the better they will be for the long-term. This leads to a higher level of success and achievement which benefits all involved. The aim is for a long-term investment, not just for business but a lasting relationship which brings value to everyone. The team, from sales to delivery, has the fiduciary responsibility for the sake of the company’s health and long-term success to prioritize client relationships.
Adapting to the client & Their Proclivities
Here we have the goal of understanding and adapting to the client and their particular proclivities. Consider that most people will mutually agree the best level of customer service is that which is tailored the most to the customer directly. Therefore, as creating a unique customer experience is key to business nowadays, setting a goal of adapting to and meeting their needs is worthy. It’s good to start the understanding process with how the client works and how that fits in with how the team works. Where is the connection to be had?
A lot of this will be done by the team through the collaboration process. The constant contact and back and forth between the PO and client will aid greatly in achieving this goal. The team needs to be able to explain what they understand about how the client works and what they expect and what the team needs to do in order to adapt or find a mutual middle ground to reach success with the client’s project.
For example, imagine a situation where your main stakeholder, the client PO, is not available. So how are you to know what to do? It would be necessary to set schedules ahead of time so he can plan accordingly and maximize the amount of information you can extract from any given meeting. On the other hand you may experience clients who are much more available and therefore, easier to adapt to and deliver that unique customer experience for them. A client eager to communicate daily is not a bad thing, but sometimes defining boundaries so the team can focus and be productive is essential.
My point here is that adapting to the client is important and should be a key goal you set to achieve, but everything within in moderation. Don’t go overboard or for that matter, allow the client to take advantage of you adapting to their needs and therefore, begin asking for the moon. Consider if a client messages you daily, but for you it’s too much so you answer them every two or three days, then you’re not adapting to the client. The correct approach here is to have an honest conversation and level with them, together agreeing to the most suitable level of communication for the sake of work progress and productivity.
Understand & Help the Client Achieve Success
Finally, I have reached my last goal for ensuring a successful digital product, understanding and helping the client achieve success. I like to succeed, likely as much as you do; it’s a safe assumption that people in general smile at simply the thought of success. Therefore, this goal should be innately ingrained into your entire team’s psyche. The team needs to understand that success is not just measured for them or the client alone; success is mutual and something all are striving for together in the project.
Now, of course there are many people involved in the project and demanding everyone keep track of every goal is going to create more stress than excitement. This is where teamwork and specific roles begin to shine the most. Again you have those specific roles which interact more with the client directly than others; these roles need to assign some of their goal focus to achieving client success. Your PO, delivery manager and even sales account manager will fall naturally into place here.
Often tech vendors are viewed as partners which help clients achieve specific outcomes for their business. They engage the vendor services to create specific products designed to deliver specific targeted value their business needs, hence specific outcomes become the client’s definition for success. It’s important to understand this so that we can help the client achieve the success they’re chasing. Success looks different for many people, often it simply matters where you’re standing and the view you have at the moment. To stand in the client’s position takes careful understanding and consideration, all of which is achievable.
Ultimately goals are necessary and desirable, this is why no matter how troublesome they can or may be, we continue to set and drive towards achieving those goals. Relationships with clients strengthen when you can achieve your goals and deliver what they want and more importantly need. Goals will drive your team to new heights, invigorating them for the coming projects ahead. So let’s embrace goals and the hunger they instill in us to strive for success!
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