IT Consulting Firm Gains Excellent Reputation
One of my clients, a boutique consulting firm in the IT space was doing very well and had some large, well known clients they were serving successfully. The challenge was that the CEO had his hand in every project as the Project Manager. This limited their ability to grow since the CEO had a finite capacity as a Project Manager. This Consulting Firm was gaining an excellent reputation. They utilized excellent talent to put together project teams and executed the projects well. Their reputation was growing and they had a lot of opportunity to grow by adding multiple projects. But they were stuck.
The Current Situation
The CEO was the one who cultivated the relationships with the clients and did the trouble shooting throughout the projects. He had a talent for establishing and maintaining strong client relationships. And the clients were very happy with the services they were receiving. The CEO wanted to grow, but was concerned about handing off additional client projects to someone else. How would he maintain control?
The CEO’s vision was clear. He wanted the company to grow by adding client projects, but he also wanted to ensure that the new clients would have the same excellent experience that his clients currently had. He needed to find a way to grow while at the same time delivering the high quality of customer service that his firm was known for. He began to wonder if it were possible to hire Project Leads to manage the additional clients projects. It sounded like a good idea, but he was nervous about handing a project off to another person and losing control of it. He knew that potential employees interviewed could talk a good game, but this could be misleading regarding their true ability to deliver a consistently high quality standard of customer service.
How to Scale Successfully
Whenever the CEO had hired Project Team members in the past, he counted on their expertise to deliver their part of the project results. That worked well in the past, mainly because the CEO was there to oversee the project and smooth over any challenges. The question now was, how could he duplicate himself in the Project Manager role to ensure the good results he was used to achieving for his clients?
The System is the Solution
Somehow, the CEO had to communicate what was in his head to the Project Leads that he would hire to be in charge of the projects. And, he would have to find a way to train them and get their agreement to be accountable for the high standard of customer service. The Project Lead would have to be an ambassador of the IT company. And then there is the agreement on the part of the Project Lead to be accountable for utilizing the documentation to guide them to ensure that consistent customer experience. With all these things in place, it just might be possible.
Here’s what I helped the CEO build to begin the transition hiring Project Leads to expand his company’s capacity:
1. Company Vision – For shared expectations so all employees represent the company well.
2. Project Lead Position Agreement – For clarity about accountability
3. Standards – For client projects
4. Systems for Delivering a Client Project – To Guide the Project Lead
5. A Training System – To give the Project Lead the information and tools for success.
6. A Quality Control System – To maintain quality standards
7. A Management System – To give the CEO a way to understand and communicate about the challenges, opportunities and results of the projects managed by the Project Leads.
Little by little, the CEO hired Project Leads and trained them to represent the company. The CEO stepped back and remained part of the team that delivered the project, but at a higher level that did not require the time commitment of the Project Lead role. The company is now able to scale their growth by hiring more Project Leads while maintaining their world class reputation. And the CEO has been able to spend more quality time with his family at their beach house, knowing that his team is representing the company well.