Have you ever created a workflow? Developed end-user training? Built a custom dashboard? Do you often listen to business problems and design a way to solve them in Salesforce? If you are nodding yes to any of these, then you were using project management skills.
You may be wondering what exactly I mean by project management? A project is generally anything that is not part of your regular work day routine. For example, creating users is a routine part of a Salesforce Admin’s day, but developing end-user training is not. Adding another option to a Picklist Field is routine but determining if the picklist is the correct field to solve a business challenge may not be. The Project Management Institute defines a project as a unique temporary endeavor. You can learn more about the definition here.
The majority of Salesforce Admins are managing projects or play a key role in projects. Applying a basic project management framework to even the smallest projects can help you stay organized, set expectations and meet deadlines.
Below are four components of project management that you can weave into every project you handle. If you think through each you’ll create a foundation for success:
- Project Charter
Let’s start with the Project Charter. It sounds like a big undertaking and for some large projects, it sometimes can be a gigantic undertaking to define and refine the project charter. But for most, it’s mainly a paragraph or two outlining the objectives of the project, purpose of the project, why it needs to be done and how its success will be measured.
The project charter starts off in a draft form. Share it with main stakeholders to ensure you all are on the same page about what is to be done. Refine it as you receive feedback and seek confirmation of any changes. This could be done through email, meetings or a formal document review.
Your future self will be happy if you collect and maintain your project charters in your Salesforce.com instance documentation. It will remind you why you created or changed things in your instance. The collection of charters is also helpful when it comes time to complete your annual review or refresh your resume.
Stakeholders are individuals that will have a stake or interest in the project. Spend time thinking through who they may be as you develop the project. Would the Executive Assistant who pulls reports for the C-suite need to know about a potential change? How would a new process impact another group within the department? Try to determine all that could have an interest in the project or would need to know about.
Ensure that you document who they are, their title and why they are considered a stakeholder. You can create a simple chart in a spreadsheet to track, formally called a stakeholder register. Take it a step further by classifying each by how engaged they are in the project and how informed they must be.
The quotes we can google on the importance of planning are infinite. To be blunt, planning = success when it comes to projects. Rarely do you successfully complete any project without a plan. Spend the time to write out your plan and break it down into tasks. You don’t need project management software, a simple spreadsheet will be sufficient.
Organize the tasks in a logical order. Highlight dependencies and who is responsible for them. For example, one person may not be able to pull data until a data update is completed by another. Also, indicate who needs to know when those dependencies are complete. This enables quick communication to the individuals waiting for the dependencies to be completed.
Communication is the undercurrent for every project. Work with your stakeholders to determine the cadence and method of communication. Do you need to do weekly email update or have a conference call to provide status? What level of detail do they need?
Keep in mind that your communication with your stakeholders should be different from those responsible for project tasks. As the project manager, you will need to communicate more frequently with task owners especially when dependencies exist.
Regular communication assists with meeting deadlines. Deadlines can and will be missed. Hurdles pop up and unexpected situations arise. Frequent communication helps adjust deadlines and will steer the project back to the path of success.
If a key deadline is missed, or you are forced to deliver unpleasant news, it is always best to deliver to the key stakeholders verbally, when possible. Few enjoy learning bad news via a group status email. A quick “heads up” will also involve them in the problem-solving sooner than waiting for a scheduled update.
Weave the foundational components of project management in the next time a user or stakeholder comes to you with a problem. The Project Charter, Stakeholders, Planning and Communication components will help you earn trust within your company and may even help you earn your next promotion.
To keep learning about project management hop on the trail called “Learn Atlassian Agile Practices” through Trailhead. You can also learn more during my Dreamforce session titled “Dear Admin, You are a Project Manager.”