Tag Archives: project management

Customer Interaction Framework – Big Name, Lots of Work

Recently I was given the task of running a project that will create what is known around here as a Customer Interaction Framework. In short, it’s meant to determine what our internal customers need when they do their job with our product, and then find a way to get useful and meaningful feedback from them. And once we figure that out, create the framework so it can be applied to all the global teams so they can generate a feedback loop to build in improvements.

Man, that is a lot of work.

The project scope is meant to span the globe yet only comprises 5 team members. We decided that keeping the team small and staffed with people who not only have experience in this area, but who are also passionate about having a dialogue with their customers and encouraging feedback. It will focus on deliverables we know we can get good feedback on, and the people in the project all have their area of expertise.

But one of the aims of this project is to set up a framework where we can get pretty specific feedback on certain deliverables and then act on it at a global level. If we don’t, we run the definite risk of alienating our customers. The tricky part is that some people are nervous about getting feedback as they think it will reflect poorly on them personally. But we have to avoid that.

However, the prerequisite for success in this project, in my opinion, isn’t the team itself being competent or motivated. That was a given. It’s actually doing our homework at the start of the project to make sure we know who we are speaking to — so we can speak their language. This will entail mapping our deliverables to the project phases and the roles that come into play at specific points, and what those people in those roles need to get their jobs done. Not an easy task. But with a name like this, I never thought it would be easy.

I hope to post more updates on this topic as the year goes by.


Congratulations, It’s a Feedback Project

So your organization picked you to run a feedback program. Congratulations.

When it happened to me I knew I was doomed. I had the project from hell. It had failed every year and it was now my turn to go before management and tell them all of the details surrounding the latest failure. Not exactly what you might want to hear.

No one had ever been able to get a feedback project to work in our department. But I was lucky enough to gather a great team. To have a manager that was more like a partner. To have built up some positive internal karma so I would get a bit of latitude. To have a sense of humor. And to know I needed a vision.

I was first looking at focus groups. I love the interaction you can generate with a well facilitated group. After a gentle shove from management, the focus group concept warped into one-on-one conversations.

These would actually be easier to organize, maintain, and control, especially as we were running the program ourselves. So we sharpened up our questions. Put in a lead tracking system to manage our contacts. And put out the word we were looking for subjects. We networked our way into a representative set of subjects.  And we asked every feedback subject if they knew someone else we could talk with. This, as it turned out. was surprisingly effective.

So, when it is your turn to run your feedback program, do look at the literature, and check with the experts. But, remember that your internal resources (your team, your management, your style) can provide the edge you need to succeed.