Most technical people are poor at the public relations side of business. Communications and marketing is generally not our strong point. But no matter how much we might like to think differently, people base decisions upon perceptions. Your project needs to create a positive perception as much as it needs to create a positive result.
To this end you need to capitalise on the successful delivery of your project and put together a “golive” launch that suitably dazzles your intended audience. This might not be a black tie event with flowing champagne and a marching band, but there should be some event that punctuates the launch of your project. This is also a good way to reward your project team and underscore your appreciation for all the hard work. At the very, very least you should launch your project with a general announcement like an email to all the stakeholders.
Finally remember that launches take time and organisation and remember to plan and schedule them appropriately (with lots of contingency!). Since a launch will necessarily be a fixed date with lots of publicity it can be highly embarrassing if you miss that date or are forced to delay it. Early on in the project you can assign a vague date to the launch and then once you have completed your final testing and you are feeling confident you can announce a specific launch date.
Don’t forget to have part or all of your team present during the launch process. This has two important benefits. First and foremost it gives them the recognition they deserve for all their hard work. Sure, you did your part, but the last thing you want to do is sit in your ivory tower claiming all the credit. Secondly it can be fabulous mileage for your PR campaign. To be honest, people would much rather talk to the individuals who slogged through the mud and got the project there by the sweat of their own brows than talk to management!
Nick Jenkins is an IT manager with 10 years experience in software development, project management and software testing. He’s worked in various fields of IT development in Australia, Britain and the USA and occasionally he learned something along the way. Now he lives on the banks of the Swan River in Perth, Western Australia, and he publishes the odd guide to help aspiring IT professionals. Nick’s website can be found at www.nickjenkins.net.