Being a product manager, I’ve consulted multiple companies in building products over the years. In the technology service industry, there are many parties to please whether it’s business owners, engineers, designers and everyone else that may be involved in building a product.
The main goal of creating a product is to deliver what’s expected in the proper time frame. However, when dealing with clients, the most important thing to keeping a healthy relationship is being a frequent and effective communicator. Most of the time, clients are happy as long as you are communicating with them which can give you flexibility with timelines.
In the software industry, keeping the project in scope is extremely challenging. Outside factors can jeopardize the initial timeline and communication of these factors need to be brought up and documented.
The following method is not an end-all solution to achieving success but has been effective for me when managing projects.
The Weekly Report
We determine our objectives every week via weekly sprints. The timeline can be interchangeable but I would say 1 week is the minimum.
It starts off with the project manager prioritizing the weeks objective and generating the report for the internal team to work against. The structure of the week report is as follows:
Last Week’s Recap
This is a checklist of all the features that were fully developed and are in production.
Usually outside factors, bugs and other blockers are documented here.
Tasks Put In Progress
These are tasks that weren’t launched but are being worked on for a future deployment week.
These are goals that were not hit. Hopefully nothing gets recorded here but these need to be made up in the future.
These are the features we plan to launch into production. This gives you space from your clients asking to get extra features pushed into a deployment. If the client has extra requests, they can be put in a future deployment.
Discoveries & Blockers
Document anything here that was discovered. If there is a blocker that may have caused you to delay a deployment, the client will know why. It’s best to document how these got introduced and how it affects the overall timeline.
Tasks Put In Progress
These won’t be launched but will be started and can take longer than the entire week.
This is an overview of your projects pipeline that will get you to launch. Having this section gives you an effective plan for the road ahead.
Should include the subject, people involved, location (call or in person), and time.
“when dealing with clients, the most important thing to keeping a healthy relationship is being a frequent and effective communicator.”
The ideal time to generate this report is on Fridays. Usually, the product/project manager and lead engineer of the project creates and runs it by the client. When presenting to the client, we recap the previous week and agree on the important tasks to work on for the week ahead.
On Monday mornings, the report is shared internally and discussed to make sure everyone is on board. After that, a middle of the week recap is recommended to make sure everyone is on track to hitting their targets or raising concerns.
To wrap things up, this weekly report keeps your clients constantly up to date while having your internal team know the overview of tasks at hand. Make sure to update the report during the week as tasks are completed, put in progress, or blockers arise.
If you have any questions or improvements, feel free to tweet me @i_wein.