Project Management

Who Else Wants Results? The Rich Reward of Outcome-Based Project Management

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Who Else Wants Results? The Rich Reward of Outcome-Based Project Management
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Who Else Wants Results? The Rich Reward of Outcome-Based Project Management

It’s so exciting to win a big project. You’re as pleased as punch that the client has picked you to be the project manager, and the team is full of positive anticipated outcomes.

However, as you look around the office, you may see outdated systems, software that’s full of glitches or a culture that values individual performance over team collaboration. And it leaves you anxious, wondering if you can please the client at all. A dissatisfied client means no repeat service, and may also make it harder to find additional projects!

Conversely, a company focused on outcomes has streamlined systems and a robust, collaborative company culture. This draws clients in, and keeps them coming back for more! How is this achieved? Let’s look at some key components of outcome-based project management.

Build a Close Relationship With the Client

1. Build a Close Relationship With the Client

It’s easy to think the successful completion of a project means fulfilling a set of requirements. However, a team’s real objective is satisfying the client. This means understanding the client’s problems or concerns, knowing how he or she hopes to solve them and then delivering on them.

Requirements are bound to change over the course of a project, particularly when it’s slated to last longer than a year. Technology even changes over the span of a long-term project. However, the client’s needs remain constant throughout.

Delivering the client a successful project translates directly into success for you. Oftentimes it means repeat business. Or at the very least, they’ll spread the word about you, and a good professional reputation is what it’s all about.

And so at the beginning of any project, sit down with the client and get to know them. Understand what they’re hoping you’ll achieve, and together explore any known unknowns, and how the project might change over its duration.

Building this relationship ensures you’ll stay focused on the end goal, through all of a project’s twists and turns.

Strong Foundation

2. Lay a Strong Foundation

Laying a thoughtful and sensible foundation at the beginning of a project is a key component of outcome-based project management. It establishes norms which sway a project’s outcome.

Take, for example, communication. It’s critical to set guidelines and best practices around how the team interacts with one another, the stakeholders and the client.

When communication is scattered, with some people texting, others emailing and still others using the company software, it’s nearly impossible for everyone to keep abreast of what’s going on. Change orders are misunderstood or ignored entirely, leading to messy scenarios that nobody wants to clean up.

On the other hand, a company with clear protocol around communication allows everyone to be on the same page. Everyone reads and understands updates and changes, and old communications are easily pulled up for reference.

The same goes for establishing norms around things like weekly meetings and status updates. Setting things up at the start gets the project off on the right foot, and these systems carry the team through to a successful delivery.

Lasso the Team

3. Lasso the Team

Channeling and aligning a team effort is no small feat. So often, a project involves huge numbers of people, possibly scattered throughout the world, with conflicting schedules and agendas.

Moreover, a project is a journey into the unknown. All sorts of issues arise, requiring this scattered team to develop new skills, swarm to complete tasks and adapt to changing requirements.

A team that likes and trusts the project manager is more likely to overcome these conflicts, roll with the punches and adapt to change.

Although there’s nothing like inspiration to energize the team’s base, leadership isn’t singularly about delivering a rousing speech and calling it a day.

Effective leadership is practiced in the day-to-day. Developing a following is about communicating with team members continually, understanding what’s on their plate and having their backs.

A daily scrum is one helpful conduit for this sort of ongoing communication. Each morning, the team gathers to provide updates and identify blockers and impediments. This makes everyone feel heard and respected.

Hire a Consultant

4. Hire a Consultant

In his commencement address at Kenyan College, essayist David Foster Wallace made the point that a fish doesn’t know he’s in water. If you explain this to him, the fish has no idea what you’re talking about.

This notion is true of us all. A team and project manager completely immersed within the company cannot see its systems for what they are. The danger is that they may be completely oblivious to a culture that gets in the way of its own success! There may be no protocol around change orders, no parameters around scope creep, no internal systems of check and balances. These sorts of omissions can really lead a project awry, yet they don’t even know they’re there!

A second set of eyes brings visibility to areas where you may be blind. A good consultant takes a deep dive into your systems and processes. They’ve seen it all before, and spot inefficiencies and red flags in your systems right away, and make helpful recommendations to fix them.

A good coach or consultant clears away office dysfunction, allowing you to stay focused on the light at the end of the project’s tunnel, and work your way there.

Change the Culture

5. Change the Culture

Many organizations get caught up in a waterfall culture, with systems completely resistant to pivots and changes throughout a project. Others are immersed in a culture that rewards individual achievement, encouraging competition amongst employees rather than collaboration.

Both these cultures may well result in a deliverable that’s not at all what it might be.

Outcome-based project management leans heavily on a thriving company culture. This energizes a team and maximizes its potential for success.

Changing a culture first entails understanding the current ways of doing things: how is behavior incentivized, and who is getting promoted and for what reasons? The next step is identifying changes you’d like to see, and putting processes in place to achieve this. If it’s an increase in collaboration, then reward this behavior at meetings. Or celebrate wins rather than highlight failures.

At first, changing a culture may feel like swimming upstream. Most people are resistant to change, and want things to continue as they had been. But it’s well worth it to cut through red tape and build a healthy company culture. This fosters good morale, and it snowballs. Everyone notices, including all stakeholders and clients.


Managing a project is a master juggling act. It’s about rallying a team, keeping all stakeholders in the loop, anticipating the unknown and, most importantly, pleasing the client.

Staying focused on the light at the end of the tunnel is key to success in project management. This entails laying a good foundation at the onset and understanding the client and their concerns, inside and out.

A sophisticated software system is integral to outcome-based project management. Teamly, the all-in-one project management software, plays a central role in bringing remote teams together. We make it possible to have all the key information in one place, readily accessible to all team members. Check us out today!

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