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  • Cherie - Workday Project/Program Manager

Successful Workday® Project Management - Part 1

Running a Successful Workday® Project- Part 1: Pre -Planning, Project Team & Client

Our company name is teamUpHR, but when I first started consulting at a different firm the environment was the opposite of a team mindset – it was a “dog eats dog world” so to speak. There seemed to be no loyalty, people were fighting over which projects they were assigned to; bottom line for me, it certainly was not a positive work environment. I strived to change that.

In the past 4 years I’ve managed over 40 Workday® projects, working with more than 30 customers, and in this time I have been able to apply a new model to projects that has made them successful and fun.

I’ve been asked what makes a successful project? At first I had to really think about that. When I was on the client side of the “house” I always tried to ensure the consultants working with me were comfortable. Even then I thought, these people leave their homes and families every week, I need to do whatever I can to make them feel appreciated. A happy team produces a quality project.

Now being on the consultant side of the “house”, I realized more than ever that small things can make a big difference. Things like:

  • Getting to know the person

  • Asking how their weekend was

  • How their family is coping with them on the road Monday to Thursday.

  • Recognizing birthdays spent away from home

  • Recognizing a long weekend that pulled a schedule back on target or a weather-delayed trip home.

All this makes them feel like part of the team. This approach has solidified relationships and to this day I keep in touch with many former consultants who I’ve worked with these past years. When you have skin in the game and own the project it establishes you as “in the trenches with the troops”.

So, how do I do this? What is my secret sauce creating amazing teams in the workplace? My approach to managing projects is similar to the way a coach manages his/her players? Some insight below:

Initial Meetings

When I am assigned a project not only do I meet with the client and sales team, I meet with my project team. Individually at first. I review:

  • The client and location

  • The schedule

  • I have them confirm they have the skillset being assigned to them.

  • I ask and encourage them to ask me personal questions such as;

  • Where do I live and what do I like about the area?

  • What is my background?

  • What do they need and expect from a Project Manager?

  • What are their goals?

  • How can I help them grow as a consultant?

Taking the time upfront to know the skills of each team member shows I respect and empower them. Taking the time to learn their children or pets names shows I care not only about the work, but I care about them as a person. This allows me to establish a personal ownership of the project and the team. This might seem like a lot, but done once well, it lasts the entire project.

Establishing Team Meeting Cadence

I’ve managed teams all over the world including several time zones all at once. In a virtual workplace, we partner and depend on people around the globe. Key to making this work is:

  • Learning about other cultures

  • Country specific holidays and time zones

  • Setting up standard recurring meetings for international project teams allows all their voices to be heard.

  • Alternating time zones for those calls states early on that everyone is equal and plays a specific role to our team. I can’t always assume everything is Eastern Standard Time.

  • I like to offer options for the team meetings and alternate weekly call times like a “time zone round robin” so we can all meet together.

Being flexible is key to a successful project. On these calls, we start to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to partner as one successful team. That is why having everyone on the call at the same time is crucial.

During team calls it’s important to listen to the team together as one. Train your project team to communicate with their client even when there is no new information. A quick call or email can set a client’s mind at ease. It shows your continued attention and that you have not forgotten them. Keep the lines of communication open and communicate often. Share knowledge with one another so no one feels uninformed. At first meetings might be bi-weekly, then weekly as the project progresses. Eventually they will be held daily, sometimes even multiple times a day.

Initial Client Meeting

With a client, I conduct a similar “get to know each other” exercise as with my project team. During an initial call I ask questions regarding:

  • Their industry, corporate culture, dress code, address and location.

  • Is there a corporate origin story that is part of the company lore, or something else of interest that makes their company unique to them as an employee?

  • What do they typically tell employees on their first day about the company to give them perspective and insight?

I have them ask me questions such as:

  • My approach managing virtual teams

  • My project background

  • The typical hours the team work

  • Their expectations of the consulting team and myself

  • The project timeline & schedule

Meeting Routines

Next up is discussing standard meeting routines. We determine the type of meetings needed and their cadence. I then schedule joint team meetings. This is different from individual calls where the consultants meet with their workstream leads - this is everyone meeting together.

It's important to host joint meetings where the two teams are on the call all together, we need to partner together to achieve one goal. By doing this early, it allows project participants to book time on calendars for the duration of the project.

Upfront I tell all that I take a role call at the start of all meetings. This is not to tattle on anyone to their boss, but to track participation. Clearly establishing meeting cadence and expectations at the start of a project is an important step to hold people accountable.

It’s good practice to have all exchange contact information:

  • Exchange info including cell numbers.

  • Ask if texting them is ok.

  • Set ground rules of when to text vs an actual call vs email.

Building this trust early and letting both teams know you are there for them goes a long way. Ensure the project and the client teams understand that they need each other to be successful. Everyone is in this together, and if one group fails, the whole team fails.

Overall, getting the groundwork set is key to mutual understanding, cooperation and eventual success of projects for all concerned. In my next blog post, Part 2 of Running a Successful Project I will focus on the Project Blueprint and the ins and outs of project plans, scope, timeline and the inevitable issues that need to be managed to a successful completion (If you would like this sent directly to you, email us below). Taken together, this is a map to a rewarding project for everyone.

If you or your company need some support with managing Workday® projects, whether that be just a few hours a week, or a full-time expert to help navigate a full implementation, drop us a line and we can work with you on a program to meet your needs. Email


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