The importance of effective relationship management in IT

Mastering relationship management for IT

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The importance of effective relationship management in IT

Often, relationship management is a key element of project success. It is worth remembering that effective management of these relationships may primarily affect the quality of work, the pace of project implementation and the overall success of the project. In this article, we will discuss the importance of effectively managing relationships with both customers and employees in an IT project.

Stakeholders participating in the design process

During the implementation of projects, especially larger ones, there are many levels along the way with which relationships must be established that will allow for smooth and efficient work on the project. Stakeholders are most often individual people, groups of people or organizations who are interested in the project and have an influence on its course and results.

The main stakeholders in IT projects are:

  • project team, i.e. specialists working on the project.
  • management team, most often people representing the team to the client and people managing the project.
  • external partners, projects often employ an external company to perform specific activities in the project, e.g. a software supplier.
  • the client is one of the most important stakeholders, he decides how the project is shaped both before it starts and during its duration.
  • end users are a group of people who will use a given software, their needs should be met by offering them a ready-made product.
  • investors, play a key role in financing the project.

Relationships at individual design stages

Relationships between project team members

The cooperation and commitment of each team member are crucial to achieving harmony, increasing creativity and achieving project success. In a project team consisting of various specialists (programmers, analysts, designers, testers, etc.) there are several key elements that strengthen good relationships:

  • Good comunication:

An important element of building relationships in the project team is effective and open communication. Each team member should have the opportunity to express their ideas, concerns, opinions and needs. Regular meetings, both formal and informal, and the use of various communication channels (e.g. e-mail, internal communication tools, video conferencing) are key to enabling effective information exchange.

  • Common vision and goals:

A good understanding of the project goals and shared vision is fundamental to building harmony in the team. Each team member should know how their contribution contributes to achieving the overall project goals. A shared vision acts as a "glue" that connects team members and gives them the motivation to work together for the success of the project.

  • Respect and understanding:

The project team brings together people with different skills, experiences, personalities and perspectives. Respecting and valuing this diversity is crucial to creating an atmosphere in which each member feels valued and accepted. Understanding that diversity is an asset allows you to better utilize the potential of each team member.

  • Cooperation and support:

The project team should work as a team, with everyone working together to achieve common goals. Supporting each other, sharing knowledge and skills, and being ready to help other team members when needed, strengthens cooperation and promotes higher efficiency.

  • Leadership based on trust:

The team leader plays a key role in building relationships within the team. Leadership based on trust and mutual respect promotes open communication, building commitment and the ability to make joint decisions. The leader should set an example for other team members and support their development.

Relationships between the project team and the management team

The project management team and the project team must maintain regular and clear communication. Jointly defining project goals, planning, monitoring progress and making strategic decisions are important elements of effective cooperation between these teams. Transparency in activities and providing appropriate information to the management team helps in making good decisions during project implementation.

The relationship between the project team and the management team is a key element of running an IT project efficiently and effectively. The cooperation between these two teams has a huge impact on whether the project will be implemented in accordance with the client's expectations, within the assumed budget and deadline.

Key principles that introduce fluidity into the project:

  • current reports and updates help avoid misunderstandings and allow for quick response to changing conditions.
  • a common understanding of priorities, project scale and assumptions allows for proper management of resources, time and budget.
  • openness and transparency in activities are crucial so that the management team can understand to what extent the project meets the client's expectations and requirements.
  • providing reliable information about difficulties, achievements and planned actions helps avoid situations in which problems are hidden.
  • cooperation regarding strategic decisions allows for making accurate decisions, taking into account the opinions and knowledge of both parties.
  • Providing appropriate resources, providing access to tools or training, and expressing recognition for achievements contribute to the commitment and enthusiasm of the project team.

Customer relations

Effective implementation of IT projects is based not only on technical skills, but also on the ability to build relationships. An important element that often determines the success of a project is the ability of the project team to establish and maintain positive relationships with the client. In the context of IT projects, the customer is the main stakeholder whose expectations and needs determine the entire process.

Please remember that communication is key. Regular, clear and two-way communication is the foundation of a good relationship. Initiating regular meetings, progress reports and providing updates keeps the client in the loop and avoids confusion.

Active listening allows you to understand the deeper needs and expectations of the client. Added value often comes from removing existing difficulties or providing additional features that the customer didn't even expect to ask for. Another element is the client's involvement in the project. Involving the client in various stages, such as progress presentations and participation in planning sessions, makes them feel part of the process. This, in turn, strengthens the sense of shared responsibility for the result.

Conflicts and difficulties are inevitable during the project, but the approach to solving them is important. Resolving issues constructively and flexibly demonstrates the team's commitment to customer satisfaction. Another element that is particularly important for clients is sharing knowledge about the progress of the project, technology or strategy, which allows the client to understand the process and make more informed decisions.

Relationships with end users

When the project reaches the implementation phase, end users, i.e. those who will directly use the product, become key stakeholders. Building a relationship with the end customer actually begins before work on the project begins. Establishing a positive relationship with end users is based on understanding their needs, challenges and expectations. Before starting the project, it is worth conducting an in-depth analysis to gain knowledge about the real problems faced by users. During such research, you can collect opinions, conduct interviews and observe their daily activities, which will allow you to better adapt the project to their real needs.

Maintaining an open line of communication with end users is a key element of building positive relationships. Regular meetings, progress presentations and reporting of project activities allow users to track how the project is evolving and what specific benefits it will bring to their work. Thanks to this, they gain a sense of involvement and influence on the development of the project.

End users often have valuable knowledge about their work and processes that are worth using in creating IT solutions. Building a positive relationship means encouraging users to share their ideas and suggestions about the functionality, interface and other aspects of the product. Jointly created solutions are more accurate and effective.

Regularly collecting opinions from users during beta tests allows for a quick response to their comments and adjustment of the product before final implementation. Taking their opinions into account gives them the feeling that their contribution is appreciated and influences the shape of the final product.

Relations with external partners

Collaborating with external partners, such as software vendors or consulting companies, requires a well-managed relationship. Providing information, working together on solutions, explaining the requirements and expectations of each other and developing solutions to problems are elements that contribute to effective cooperation with external partners. These relationships may take different forms and require different skills, but they are always based on cooperation, trust and communication. Here are some key relationships that are built during the life of an IT project:

  • Technology Providers: In most IT projects, organizations need to work with software, hardware or service providers. Working together with suppliers requires clear definition of expectations and goals, as well as effective communication. Good relationships with suppliers can accelerate project implementation, help solve problems and provide access to the latest technologies.
  • Other external companies: During the course of an IT project, various types of external partners may appear, such as marketing agencies, consultants, consulting companies and hosting providers. Cooperation with them can help implement specialized solutions, provide expert support or increase the project's visibility on the market.
  • Outsourcing teams: For large IT projects, organizations often use outsourcing or offshoring teams. Building relationships with these teams is crucial for effective remote collaboration. This requires managing cultural differences, long-distance communication skills, and clear processes and expectations.
  • Subcontractors: It is often necessary to employ subcontractors to perform specific tasks or stages of the project. Working with subcontractors requires monitoring work progress, managing contracts and ensuring that they perform their tasks as agreed.
  • Open source community: If your IT project relies on open source software, building relationships with the open source community can be crucial. Collaborating with open source developers and users can bring benefits in the form of technical support, bug reports, and project development.

Investor relations

Building relationships with investors in IT projects is an important aspect for both start-ups and larger organizations. Investors often play an important role in the financing and development of an IT project.

Elements of relations with investors during the project:

Graphic showing elements of investor relations over the course of the project

  • First contact and presentation of the project During the first meeting with investors, the purpose of the project, potential benefits and implementation strategy should be clearly presented. This is the first step to building trust.
  • Open and regular communication: Regular communication with investors is extremely important. Keeping them informed about progress, achievements and potential problems helps keep them engaged in the project. This may include regular reports, meetings or updates.
  • Understanding Investor Expectations: Every investor has their own expectations and goals. You need to carefully understand what they expect from their IT project investment, whether it's return on investment (ROI), profit share, or product development. Adapting the project to these expectations may increase the chances of long-term cooperation.
  • Risk management: Investors are interested in minimizing investment risk. It is therefore worth showing that the project is managed responsibly and risks are identified and monitored. This can help build investor confidence.
  • Actions to increase the value of the project: Investors expect an increase in the value of their investments. Working to grow the project, acquire new customers, increase revenue or develop new features can help increase the value of the project.
  • Financial Accountability and Transparency: Investors often expect accurate and reliable financial data. Therefore, it is important to maintain accurate accounting and present financial reports and forecasts in a clear and understandable way.
  • Problem solving and flexibility: Difficulties and challenges may arise during the project. It is important to be flexible and willing to consider changes to your strategy if necessary. Problem-solving skills can increase investor confidence.
  • Long-term perspective: Relationships with investors can last for many years, especially if the project develops successfully. A long-term perspective allows you to build lasting relationships based on common goals and values.

Taking care of these relationships can help you obtain financing for the next stages of the project, acquire valuable business contacts and obtain not only financial but also substantive support. Relationship management is an essential element of every IT project. Good communication, trust and effective cooperation are the foundation of success, and skillful building of relationships with various stakeholders can accelerate the pace of project implementation and contribute to achieving its goals. If you want to improve relations with stakeholders in your project but don't know where to start, please contact us:

About The Author
Izabela Węgrecka

Izabela is a Project Manager and Scrum Master with 6 years of experience in the IT industry. She has experience in leading diverse projects and effectively managing teams. She's a leader with the ability to create cohesive and efficient teams based on Scrum values. Regardless of the project's scale, she's able to establish a dynamic environment where collaboration, innovation, and delivering valuable products take precedence.