Getting Support For The Roadmap

Getting Support For The Roadmap

Okay. You’ve got your PowerPoint deck now and it’s dressed to impress, with lists and circles and arrows and tables and graphs and all that cool stuff. Now it’s time to take that sucker on the road.

I heard a speaker say once that project managers should read sales books instead of project management books. There’s a lot to be said for that view, because a PM is always pushing—and communicating—to get people to do something, to act in a certain way. If that’s not sales, I don’t know what is. So arm yourself! How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie, is a classic, not just for sales, but for enriching relationships in general. Some of Carnegie’s examples and language might seem a little dated by now, but the knowledge is eternally valuable. Also, check outThe Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer. Gitomer gets right to the point and provides the fundamentals in this short book.

Let’s take a step back, though, before we step forward. When you were creating this roadmap, did you involve the functional teams, to give you a reality check as to what’s actually possible? True, if you’re doing projects or products that haven’t been done before, the functional folks may be more pessimistic than you are about the vision, but the input is still invaluable, and the buy-in even more so.

Double-check to be sure project/product fits into the larger scheme of things your company/department is up to. Be sure you can demonstrate how your initiative fits into the big picture.

Talk to all your stakeholders, not just the functional resource managers, before you even get to the first approval point, or stage gate, or whatever they call it at your place. Get everything pre-approved before you go for the official nod. Give yourself plenty of time for this, because there’s little doubt stakeholder requirements and/or sponsor visions will change by the time you get to that first gate. Repeat this for every gate you go through, if you possibly can and you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache.

Finally, a word about passion. I fully understand that building the new Tubscrubber 4000 or getting Release 1006.2 out the door may not be the thrill of your life, but if you care enough about project management to be reading this, or anything else you don’t have to, about the field, then you are likely infected to some degree with the project management bug. Unlike a normal person, you get a weird kick out of making those plans, following up with those team members, resolving those issues, even—Heaven help us—making those earned value calculations. It’s in the art of project management that your passion truly lies, not necessarily into the thing to which it’s applied. If you bring that passion to your sales effort, you’ll be a powerful evangelist for whatever it is you’re doing.

Next: Handling Changes to the Roadmap

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