Ways to distinguish yourself #146 – Master the "criteria audit"

Earlier, I have written about:

1. the need to learn the art of managing multiple projects (we are always in the middle of two or more projects in our life so we better learn to manage them all well)

2. to learn the art of setting the right expectations  (yes, it is important to exceed expectations but it is important to set them right at first)

What is also important and often overlooked is the art of conducting a criteria audit. It is a simple exercise (but requires great practice) where you learn to elicit the underlying criteria to satisfy someone’s need. For us in the technology profession, it is the criteria that our customer uses to judge that we provided an “above average” service. The litmus test for this is a repeat order from the same customer.

For starters, how about asking questions something like this:

“What should happen or what should you see if this project is to be considered a big success?”

“When do you consider this project a success?”

“How do you know that we succeeded big time on this project?”

The above questions might work or you might have to invent your own that work. The key is to get the other person outline his or her criteria clearly. Now where is the audit part? It is obvious that a reasonably sized project will have multiple stakeholders and as you might guess every person involved may have a slightly different set of criteria to judge the success of the project. It is our job to get the key stakeholders to elicit their criteria. Then we can collate the results and come up with an action plan. A side-benefit of that exercise will be that you will have enough insight to deal with expectations mismatches or early warning signs of “internal politics.”

Once you practice this in your current engagements, you will notice that you will start getting to this almost unconsciously. Your clients will love it and you will feel that you have greater control on the project.

Note: For other articles in the same series, please visit my Squidoo lens on the same topic.
Link: Squidoo Lens: Distinguish Yourself