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Project Managers and Vendors: Creating a Successful Partnership – Part VII (#7 in the series Project Managers and Vendors: Creating a Successful Partnership)
By Linda Miller of Traveling Coaches, Inc.

Project management offices (PMOs) and project managers (PMs) are a necessity in today’s law firms, to ensure that IT projects stay on track. Anyone acting as a PM on a project requiring multiple outside vendors knows that if not managed properly, chaos can reign. Working with your own staff on a project can usually be orchestrated with ease, but throw in a vendor or two (or more) and the project can quickly get out of hand. Creating a successful partnership between vendors and your own project team is a necessity to ensure project success.

Communicate Informally

Informal communication should be frequent and brief. Hold impromptu meetings with the project team including project managers, project leaders and external resources. These meetings should cover the project status and address concerns, as well as share successes. The findings from these meetings should be presented in formal communication. Project leaders need to be experts in their project scope (application) and have the leadership skills necessary to put formal processes in place. They should report completed tasks, issues, potential risks, scope creep and other issues back to the PM.

Communicate Formally

Formal communication efforts are recurring meetings to discuss issue management, change management, action items, risks, timelines, budget, scope and tasks. The firm PM should invite the vendor PM and appropriate project leaders to participate in the weekly meetings. The meetings should be a part of the project plan, and the appropriate resources should be allocated to attend. All formal communication should include an agenda with status reports of action items from previous meetings and issues raised in the informal meetings. Minutes are taken during the formal meeting and distributed to the project team and the PM. Meeting minutes are very important and provide valuable records, reminders, and food for thought regarding the lessons learned as the project closes out.

This article was first published in ILTA’s July, 2007 white paper titled “Project Management — Broadening Your Scope” and is reprinted here with permission. For more information about ILTA, visit their website at http://www.iltanet.org.

Linda Miller is co-owner and principal of Traveling Coaches, Inc., leading the company’s team of project managers, application specialists and document management engineers. Linda has extensive experience leading projects with law firms and consulting law firms on project management. Since 1995, Linda has served as the company’s technology partner managing all technical and project management operations. Linda is a dynamic presenter and implementer of project management, adult learning theories (training techniques) and IT management level courses. Linda holds many technical certifications in the legal industry enhancing her valuable experience as a consultant. Linda can be reached at lmiller@travelingcoaches.com.

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