As an experienced delivery partner of Salesforce, MondayCall has created a refined project methodology that enables us and our clients to manage projects of all sizes and complexity. This interview begins a short series on MondayCall Project Management and, we hope, provides insights into our project management leadership.
Sherri Needham, Director and leader of our Project Management Office (PMO), is a seasoned technology leader with extensive expertise in Salesforce and Project Management. Sherri brings 18 years of delivery and leadership experience across multiple functional business areas, including investment management, sales, service, and marketing. Sherri holds a number of Salesforce certifications for Sales, Service, and Administration, as well as a ScrumMaster (CSM).
Can you describe MondayCall’s project methodology and what makes it unique?
Sherri: The project process that’s embedded in our methodology begins in the sales cycle. We feel that it’s not “sales and then delivery.” While there’s absolutely a delineation of roles, our PM team is really focused on preparing clients with what they need to know, and that usually starts before a deal is signed. Oftentimes, even before the contract is signed, I will meet with the client and their team to review our methodology [with them] and discuss the overall project preparation. It’s important for them to know their role in the process, what they can expect and get them familiar with the process so they’re not blindsided when they walk into the project. Our goal is “no surprises.” Some of our clients aren’t familiar with software development lifecycle principles, and many have never been engaged in a high impact, fast-moving, IT-related project. We work to get the process in front of them as early as possible to set expectations on timing and scope and reassure them that our end goal is to set them up for success.
How do you manage expectations and risk when working with clients?
Sherri: We add in several measures, from the beginning of the engagement through the entire implementation, to help mitigate risk. The Account Managers (AM) conduct a process with the client that includes as much upfront planning as possible, including aligning scope and set expectations within the client’s budgeting/time constraints. The AMs also work with our resource manager to ensure the right resources are aligned to the project as early as possible. In some cases, if we’re able to lock in a working timeline early enough, we will pre-staff projects before they’re closed to be certain we have the right skills and people aligned to the project’s success criteria. Once the project is handed off to the delivery team, several other risk mitigation steps are employed, including making sure we pass through the right gates, get the right sign offs, engage the right people, identify gaps in scope early, and remove any blocking items quickly. There’s a process for each of these steps. Throughout, we’re employing best practices that we’ve developed not just from the experience of many MondayCall projects, but the collective expertise the team brings from their own work history and project methodologies – Salesforce in particular.
What can a customer do to help mitigate risk on their end?
Sherri: Our process has risk mitigation built in, but there are some things we absolutely need from the customer to manage risk. Project and solution ownership is key – that means we need an individual identified at the client who’s going to own the solution, who’s going to be responsible for making decisions, and who’s effectively going to be responsible for ensuring the return on their investment. Executive sponsorship involvement is also critical to move things along, but this tends to apply more to bigger engagements with larger companies. We can ensure a customer’s success as long as they stay open to the process and trust in the best practices that we employ – this is especially true for clients who haven’t been through it before.
How do you partner with customers, versus just a vendor/customer relationship?
Sherri: The biggest belief we employ at MondayCall is that all of our customer engagements are a true partnership. Our customers trust us to sit at the table and partner with them, employing our tools and providing solutions designed to help make their lives easier. Many of them are still working out of spreadsheets, and don’t really have any tools to speak of. I never look at it as a vendor-customer relationship. [Customer success] comes with building up that trust, starting early in the sales process and evolving throughout the entire engagement. Our success is their success, both of which we take very seriously.