University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee School of Continuing Education
Project Management Monthly: May 2011: Tips and Tricks

Communication Is Key

When you’re a project manager your wheels are constantly turning with each one of your project’s tasks, deadlines, expectations and budgets. With all this responsibility, it’s sometimes easy to forget the importance of also managing and balancing relationships within the project.

Maintaining positive vendor relationships is critical to a project’s success. Anytime you work with an outside vendor the project becomes open to outside influences impacting budgets and timelines. When starting to handle an outside contract, make sure you clearly state:

  • Deadlines
  • Budget expectations
  • Notification process if items don’t go as planned ahead of time
Prior to starting a project with an outside vendor, clearly communicate project goals and parameters. Upon settling on these items, create a document within the contract detailing the consequences of not meeting those expectations - for instance, if the project goes past schedule, there is a reduction in the contractor’s hourly rate. Also prepare to review the budget every three weeks with the vendor to make sure everything is balanced.

Remember to set up a meeting with key members of your team that are influenced by the vendor’s relationship. For instance, if you’re working with an IT vendor for a project that relies on marketing objectives, the vendor should meet with representatives from the marketing team as well as you, your back-up and any other key members. Team familiarity makes everyone realize who is impacted with decisions, missed deadlines, etc.

Relationships are a crucial element to making projects work. By putting all objectives on the table first and foremost, expectations are also laid out for all
to understand.

To learn even more helpful strategies for Project Management, visit

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