Today I would like to cover the importance of Customer Feedback to your future projects. Don’t ever underestimate the importance of feedback, which can take many forms. It could be conducted officially such as a survey or unofficial such as a candid discussion over lunch, it really doesn’t matter on the format as long as you get feedback. Normally at the conclusion of your project, during the project close out phase, you would hand over the “As Built” documents as part of your acceptance criteria; well another step which is often overlooked is feedback on performance.
Issues which were identified, essentially lessons learnt. Remember we learn via the mistakes we make, so don’t only go after the positive feedback, which although is important to our own self-esteem, may not necessarily help on the next project. Sometimes it is beneficial to focus on the negative, such as did the project meet your customers expectation, was your delivery and the manner in which you conducted yourself to the customers approval, did you communicate on the progress enough, is there anything you would change regarding my approach, this is more focused on self growth as well as providing a knowledge base and reference for your future projects. Covering aspects such as the on-time delivery of the project and what factors hindered the timelines, did it run over budget, was conflict experienced between the teams during the life cycle, were resources hard to obtain, there can be a myriad of reasons that pop up during the course of a project which would be identified during the project but can be glossed over once the project is delivered, and then everybody moves onto the next task.
Normally it would be wise to make any feedback official, such as conducting a survey, where a record can be kept, to be reviewed so you can avoid issues of the same nature on your next project, although not each project is necessarily identical, however, an issue faced in one and its resolution may assist you in your next project. It is best to have a record; it will save you reinventing the wheel when you do encounter something similar in your future project. Some companies say that customer feedback is mandatory to close off a project, and that’s the way it should be, as it is an important step during any project. Also remember, this does not involve only external customers, feedback of this nature should include all your internal customers as well, the groups involved during the delivery of your project, as they may have comments along the lines of being engaged earlier during the project, being involved in the scope of the project, ensuring they were available during the required time of delivery, and the list goes on. Also when you ask for feedback it also means you are looking at self-improvement which is always favorable.
Good, bad or indifferent, we want to know how effective we are when delivering projects. Paying attention to those who have worked with us during the project is an important step for our evolution into a great Project Manager. Remember, having something good said about you is motivation enough for your next project but when performance is below expectation, we need to be told. That way we own the problem, and make an action plan to correct any marginal performance.