Projects that proceed without a hitch and zero issues only exist in an ideal world. But in reality, this is not the case; and not being able to manage project risks effectively can result in cost-prohibited outcomes. Risk impacts the entire team and stakeholder compositions; from Business leadership, designers, architects, developers and quality assurance testers. Every human and non-human component of the initiative is limited to its effective planning and optimized execution thereof.

Defining project risk

Aligning the right people for a project process is quite challenging when you have to do it by yourself. By bringing on help, such as an Engagement Manager, who is dedicated to the project successful outcome within budget and time constraint that also takes on responsibility for all its moving parts, greatly maximizes team performance while optimizing project risk mitigation. In short, having another set of helping hands inside the trenches that motivates and takes on ownership, is an optimal way to ensure the team’s success.

How? By looking at project challenges in 3 steps.

  1. Eyes on Item – (It is critical that someone in the team owns the items) The team has to watch this item because it has a potential of turning into serious risk. This marked item can be associated with previous project/behavior task experience.
  2. Assess Item Risk – Not all can be contemplated or planned and unpredictable situations do arise. When they do arise, it’s critical to plan at that moment because it will affect the project positively or negatively.
  3. Problem Item – The item turned into a full blown problem, the gremlin is real!  No matter how well the team planned it, it did not worked out or it was influenced by unforeseen external factors.

In the real world, risk happens across all kinds of projects, from building a complex space program down to creating the simplest website. Understanding that risk will be present no matter how well you plan for it, enables individuals to become better strategic leaders. This is where the role of the Engagement Manager greatly increases value to the project team because they find intelligent ways to design, construct and deploy the product on time and on budget.

Communicating risk

Setting the right communication process is critical to the Engagement Manager’s success; a clear channel for identifying and reporting risks. The Engagement Manager needs to be able to produce a static status report on a weekly basis, and then share this report to groups of stakeholders.

Typical discussions will commonly gravitate towards item risks rather than eyes on item. To most it may seem that these items aren’t the most useful, however, nobody wants their tasks or project in the RISK STAGE when reviewed by leadership and stakeholders. The Engagement Manager has the choice and duty to bring important items to the table while keeping the team focused on the objectives without them fearing of being viewed in a negative way by leadership. This is the reason why project co-leadership, some may call it co-ownership, becomes an incredibly value-added component to the project and an important strategic partnership within the organization. It forces teams to focus on OUTCOME rather than focusing on individual tasks. This reinforces that each team member needs to own the task instead of fears allowing to affect them.

A better product

The value it brings to a development team is that it increases the quality of the product being developed while maintaining budget scope. Companies that use external software vendors with this type of Team composition, such as Playboy Enterprises, RealD, and Coca- Cola are continuously delivering successful products across their market within time and budget frameworks.

Engagement manager | ArkusNexus
Big picture guy The engagement manager adds a big picture approach, keeps the team motivated and builds a sense of ownership

Education and environment

Educating teams is critically important in order for the organization to adapt and adopt this practice. It also helps if the teams pick set of Items and be responsible for them while assuring that the communication environment adheres to the Engagement manager's process. This promotes a safe environment, enabling team members to freely discuss all items. The practice propagates effective creative problem solving and team collaboration.

At the end of the day

Engagement leaders not only manage, but strategically lead the product into optimal phases with optimal possibilities delivered to stakeholders. This means greater product development choices that increment value, thus increasing user loyalty.

Some value added benefits and key takeaways are:

  • Increment perceived team values by Clients and Stakeholders
  • Tighten the gap of team culture and identity
  • Understanding how far you can push the team, test their limits and your own by knowing when to pull back.
  • Deeper understanding of product features and systems including which ones are the most important
  • Help the team adapt and overcome their fears and enable them to focus intellect on critical areas