Context: Client Project at The Data School
The client project is a part of the Data School’s four-month training. During the training period, every data schooler gets to be a project manager, solving real-world problems and delivering solutions to clients. There are roughly 7-8 client projects during the training and so we also take turns to lead a project.
Leading a Project
Being a project lead can be a daunting task, let alone working on a client project. It comes with the pressure to understand the correct requirements, assess and scope the work, and deliver what we said we will be delivering at the end of the week. However, it is rewarding and fulfilling when the project is finished with a good outcome.
In this post, I will share my experience as a project lead, highlighting some challenges and tips. There are three challenges I would like to address, but I will split the post due to its length.
First Challenge – Meeting Client and Requirement Meeting
It was the fourth project for our cohort that I volunteered to be a project lead. At the end of the third project, when deciding who is going to be the next project lead, I raised my hand. All of sudden, after two hours, I was in a meeting with the client for an overview of the project. It was very daunting and I was rather nervous since it was my first experience. I tried to write down everything that has been said. This was necessary for the sake of documenting. However, it was also problematic because I couldn’t focus on the conversation and come up with good questions as I was busy writing things down.
If you think this could be you, here are some tips for you:
1) Ask the client at the beginning of the meeting if the session can be recorded for the purpose of reference later. In this case, you can focus on the conversation and be present because you know that the session is recorded and you don’t need to write down everything during the meeting.
2) Prepare some questions to ask. During the meeting, it was hard for me to think critically and creatively with the level of pressure and stress. One thing that helped me was asking questions that I knew to be beneficial to ask. Throughout the previous projects, I oberseved our coach Bethany who asks really good questions to client. Even though I didn’t have them written down, I knew a few questions she often asks and I asked those questions to the client. This gave me the opportunity to clarify things and know the requirement better. So, having a list of general project-related questions can make things easy.
3) Don’t be afraid to ask clients about jargon or abbreviation they use. The client was an asset finance provider, which is a area I didn’t know much about. As the client talked about the business and the requriment, things were not clear because the client used a number of abbreviation. We polietly asked what those abbreviation mean. The client kindly explained those terms and also started to unpack things rather than wrapping up with abbreviation. This was very helpful for our understanding.
As I mentioned above, I have two more challenges I would like to address. I hope this post helped you in your preparation to meet clients and be in a requirment meeting!