At first glance, which of the following projects do you think have the better chance of achieving their needed business results?
- “Sales Process Redesign” OR “Revenue Growth Enhancement”
- “Business Intelligence System Implementation” OR “Competitive Analysis Information Gathering”
- “Employee Inventory Skill List Enhancement” OR “Talent Management Maximization”
When looking at the three comparisons above, my contention is that the names listed on the right have a greater chance of meeting their business objects than the project names listed on the left. The reason for this statement is based on my belief that a project’s name helps define its purpose and helps the project’s manager define his/her team’s vision.
When looking at the project names listed above, the names on the left describe the work to be done and the project names on the right describe the business outcome to be achieved. This subtle difference in naming convention can help the team focus on the “project why”, not just the “project what”. This simple, seemingly small, difference can help the people working on the project focused on filling the business need, not just completing the business task.
In addition to providing project focus, the names on the right also have the potential to help motivate the team. It’s funny, sometimes in life it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. As an example, which of the following two rally cries do you find more motivating?
- “Ok team, let’s get out there and redesign the sales process!”
- “Ok team, let’s get out there and help drive company revenue!”
My thought is that unless you are a process redesign specialist by background, you probably would be more motivated by the second statement rather than the first.
Another important reason to name your project after the result, rather than the task, is that it may help you get your project funded. Yes, I’m suggesting that the right project name can help get you funded. Every company, no matter how big or small, has limited funds to allocate to worthwhile projects. Therefore, those who are making the decision are reviewing a list of possible projects; you want yours to stand head and shoulders above the rest. A good action oriented topic resulting in an outcome desirable by the decision makers can help get your project (and you) noticed.
Also, the right project name can help you get the cross-department cooperation that is so often needed to make a project successful. Going back to the originally listed projects at the top of this column, which one of the following two statements would be harder for someone to explain?
- Joe has refused to help us redesign the sales process.
- Joe is refusing to help on the revenue growth project.
My thought is that it would be much more difficult for Joe to explain to his upper management why he does not want to help the company increase its revenues.
Lastly, the right project name can be a great addition to the accomplishments section of your resume for use both inside and outside your current employer. When adding accomplishments to your resume consider their wording from the following perspectives:
- Is the accomplishment understood by those who read it?
- Is the value of the accomplishment to your employer apparent to those reading it?
- Is the value of your accomplishment something the reader would like you to do for them?
- What is the probability that the words you used to describe the accomplishment will be used in a key word search by a recruiter or potential employer?
In closing, I would like to take a quote from a Shakespeare play “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” and continue to say that a project by any other name may not get funded.
Until next time, lead well, always communicate, and think business first and technology second.