Communication in Single vs. Multiple Vendor Projects

Project management relationships can easily take on a different dynamic depending on the project requirements and the client’s need. Clear communicating is crucial to any successful project, especially complex projects that use an agile approach. The more resources that are involved in a project makes clear communication more important, and, at times, more difficult.

When a technical project manager is dealing 1-on-1 with their client they already know the client’s line of business, the usual players involved, and any potential obstacles such as guidelines, time zone differences, and the status of other ongoing projects that must be balanced. When another party – or even multiple parties – is added to the project mix it increases the complexity and makes successful project delivery more challenging.

Acknowledging that each vendor invited to the table has something important to share and the skills to back their ideas is important from the start. Each vendor must have a good relationship with the project driver and share common goals to make both the client and project succeed. Extra effort is needed in multiple vendor environments. It is important to understand any new partner’s relationship with the client, how they usually work together, get to know the new staff involved, and then adjust for the possibility of added time zone differences or even a language barrier.

Success with a multiple vendor project is accomplished easily by providing technical specifications that the client project driver signs off on at the beginning. A project driver must clearly define vendor roles, responsibilities and deadlines. Then the project manager must manage expectations among the different teams, conduct regular meetings and provide communication strings, and build a positive working relationship.

The project manager must work hard on the stability of the project while maintaining the working relationships of all the parties involved. It’s important for the project manager to communicate often with the client, the other vendor(s), and the development teams as problems arise, objectives change, new information arrives, and/or when goals are met. Everyone needs to stay on the same page.

Communication, collaboration, and a shared goal of delivering a strong project on time should certainly outweigh the challenges, and can actually be a rewarding and exciting experience.

One Comment

  1. Posted June 24, 2009 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    If anyone missed Scott’s post about testing protocols in technical project management, I highly recommend it. You can find it here:

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