Project Management — Successful vs Happy Closure — Part II
Part I of this story was my first attempt to write about project management and account management. Please have a look to get you in the right place to start reading part II.
Thanks for waiting. Here’s the second part of this series. My apology for getting too late to publish it. Have been engulfed by a couple of projects actually.
As I told you in the first part of this story that via trial and error, I have listed down a few Do’s and Dont’s for a Project Manager/Account Manager. So here is the first of them:
An Account Manager and the Project Manager for a project should never be the same!
Yes, I remember that I used the two roles with a slash 😆
I have been in both roles simultaneously, for multiple projects, and I can tell you it makes things difficult to handle. Ideally, an Account Manager belongs to the sales/business development department of a company, whereas a Project Manager is an engineering representative.
An Account Manager puts himself quickly into the client/product owner’s shoes while a Project Manager wants to keep the project profitable, the team’s morale and interest high, and complete the project successfully. The Project Manager is always striving to strike a balance while an Account Manager is always enjoying a tilt (towards the client, obviously). This very fact makes these two roles separate.
Understanding client’s perspective, preferences, the benefit of end-users, competitor analysis, suggesting refinements in the existing product, and prioritizing releasable features for the team, etc. is a full-time job for an Account Manager. Remember, for the sake of simplicity we have assumed that there’s a one-to-one relationship between a client and a project. In reality, an Account Manager may be working with a client and multiple Project Managers for different projects.
As we have built our case to part the two roles, let’s discuss the Do’s and Dont’s for each role separately.
If you are an Account Manager, remember you are an ambassador of your organization, the face of your company. You need to be presentable, well-rounded, polite, knowledgeable, persuasive, impressive, charismatic, and all such things 😏
It’s a sales job, my dear. The more qualities you have, the more successful you will be.
As there’s always room for improvement, you can occupy all blocks gradually. No hurry, keep practicing 😄
Here are a few tips to simplify your job:
- Be available. It’s almost a full-time job. If your timezone doesn’t overlap with your client, it’s hard but that’s the key. If your client needs your support, you have to be there. Helping in winning business to your client should be your top priority. Remember, if your client makes a deal, your account is safe and has the potential to flourish.
- You need to align your team with the product’s marketing/rollout plan. For instance, if the product has to be presented at some seminar/webinar, exhibition, or trade show, you can help the team in prioritizing features to be presented in the event and simplifying and perfecting workflows from an end user’s perspective. On the other hand, you can assist the client in planning and developing presentation material. Really endless ways of your contribution 😄
- Learn your client’s availability by observation and talk to them at the time when the probability of getting a response is the highest. Talk to them at a fixed time at a regular frequency. Better, make them comfortable talking to you for a few minutes daily. The more habitual (s)he is, the more aligned you two are.
- In case you have to talk to a team, better schedule a weekly meeting, share a recurring meeting via Zoom/Teams, etc., and make sure it's added to their calendar.
- Help your clients succeed by helping them out of the way e.g. helping him/her in preparing a presentation. Competitor analysis and floating ideas (if you are weak at that, just don’t do it), brainstorming new features, user training, and collecting user feedback.
- Never share your feelings with your client or the team. You are a professional. Don’t make things personal at all.
- Never work unpaid. Your time is as precious as anyone else. Provide an ideal service to your organization and clients but not for free. Know your worth.
- Invest in your professional development and personal grooming. No one is perfect and the sky is the limit. Learning more languages, accents, dialects, knowing more about different parts of the world, people, traditions, sports, films, music, human psychology, business management, startup ecosystem, fund-raising, venture capital, accounting, and everything I could not mention 😀
In essence, the more exposure you have, the more successful you will be (by the way, let me write another story on personal development).
I think it’s better to keep this story focused on Account Management. Let me share some tips for Project Managers in the next part.