Q&A with the Taskmaster
PowerObjects is no stranger to implementations or migrations, operating for over 25 years as one of the most awarded partners for Microsoft Dynamics 365. We begin each project by following our Proven Process. We understand that each project is unique; but also take pride in ensuring projects are geared up for success! So, when PowerObjects decided it was time for our own migration, it’s no surprise that we looked to our own Proven Process to kick-off a successful project.
As part of the implementation phases of the Proven Process, PowerObjects starts with the Plan for Success, where the Project Manager works with the team to begin the initial framework for a successful project. We sat down with Libby Holmes, PowerObjects’ Project Manager, and ‘The Taskmaster’ for PowerObjects own internal migration, to get the inside scoop into Libby’s favorite phase, Plan for Success.
What is the biggest benefit of the Plan for Success phase?
It’s all in the title! Our Plan for Success is used to set the project up to be successful and it correlates with the guiding principles of PowerObjects to do the right thing, live the technology, think team, love what you do, and always add value. We really become part of the client’s team. No one is on an island. You build the trust and relationship and have a plan ready to go to be successful.
What is the biggest benefit you have seen PowerObjects gain by using the Proven Process method?
Like many projects, departments have assumptions on how other departments are using the system. Delivery has assumptions of how Sales uses CRM, and the reality is that those are not always correct. To have a Plan for Success for the PowerObjects project truly allows us to understand the business needs as company and understand how Dynamics 365 empowers people to do their jobs better.
What are some key deliverables in the initial states of the Proven Process?
For PowerObjects’ migration, our delivery team was part of the Evaluation Process to scope out the project and deliver a preliminary statement of work. From there, our process is to get as much understanding and documentation about our business processes as we can. We care about what users are doing to get from Point A to Point B. Once we understand that piece, we traditionally deliver a document that maps out how we think this project will work and a document that ties in business requirements to the work we will be doing.
With this project, we created a Data Dictionary to better manage how PowerObjects as a company oversees the actual data we store and how each department is using that data. Sometimes we learn that processes have been removed or absorbed by a different process.
We also have internal documentation that maps out what we’re doing, when we’re doing it, how many resources we need, and how many hours a week it takes. Each project has a unique flavor to it, but we show these to the client and get their sign off.
Do you ever see hesitation from a client before starting The Proven Process?
Clients are usually more excited than hesitant to get started and traditionally forget to take a step back to look at their project as a whole because they have just finished the Evaluation Phase with sales and are ready and excited to hit the ground running! Sometimes, I just need to have them pause to review and understand the Proven Process. I like to assure them that a big chunk of time is spent to understand their business. They are the experts on their business and PowerObjects is the expert in Microsoft Dynamics 365. The Proven Process is really about the “help us, help you” mindset. It may take longer than sometimes expected, but this process allows us to set solid groundwork for what we’re doing in the later phases and makes the project successful overall.
How do you align both your team and the client’s team for success?
The kick-off call is a crucial piece in the Plan for Success. This is where you set expectations. Before the kick-off call, PowerObjects’ PM and the Client PM collaborate to start aligning and setting expectations and prepare for the kick-off call. This is super, super crucial as the kick-off call sets the tone of the project. The sales team outlines the scope, and the kick-off call confirms everyone is on the same page. Sometimes, that may mean we need multiple kick-off calls, depending on stakeholders and temperament of the project.
With the Plan for Success, we also are building trust with the project team. We build on the trust that we are going to do what serves them the best and we’re going to do the right thing. With PowerObjects’ migration, one benefit we’ve had is the chance to be flexible and fluid with our calls. We have that inherent trust built already. Our internal team knows we are here to make things better.
As PowerObjects continues to grow, we need to set ourselves up for success. Moving us to a cloud-based solution sets us up for what we do best; it empowers Sales to sell effectively, allows Marketing to streamline campaigns, and enables Delivery to manage projects better within the system via a central spot, thereby removing silos in which we have worked in the past.
Do you have any tips for keeping open lines of communication between you and a client?
Often, the biggest tip I can give is to set up consistent status calls to make sure there is a dedicated time to communicate. Right now, we have two calls a week for the PowerObjects’ project. One of these is an internal call with the delivery team and one is with the stakeholders. In any project, because a PM is working closely with the client’s PM, you need to establish a good relationship, so you can be frank and honest about expectations or challenges, make sure they understand who they can escalate any problems to, and familiarize yourself with the client PM’s strategy for communicating honestly with their external stakeholders.
Any advice for current or future “Taskmasters”?
The biggest piece of advice I have is to remember that every project is unique. You will never have the exact same experience twice. A good Taskmaster should expect roadblocks, be flexible to handle occasional shifting, and use their ‘PM Toolbox Skills’ to be a knowledgeable resource. I think of Tim Gunn from Project Runway saying, “Alright designers, make it work.” At PowerObjects, we have a huge support system with great Project Directors, Capabilities Directors, and other teammates to support you. We don’t want to tell clients what to do, we want to work with them. It’s that team mentality we strive for as a company.
More About Libby…
Caravan Palace; or any electric swing or classic jazz music
The Best Snack Food
Favorite Way to Relax After a Successful D365 Project
Either spending time at home on the couch or hanging out with friends
What are three words to describe yourself?
Energetic, Positive, Optimistic
Favorite item on your desk?
Office Desk: A large eraser from my dad from St Louis, Missouri, that says ‘For big mistakes.’ It reminds me I’m going to mistake and mess up, and that’s okay, because the team is there to help me fix it.
Home Desk: I have a plaque from my grandfather that says ‘Think Big’ in very, small font. It’s a piece of irony but it reminds me a big solution can come from little ideas or little tweaks. PMs will never completely change what you’re doing. If you’re steering a ship, you don’t turn at 180 degrees, you make slow turns so you don’t capsize.