Project Management Strategy Work related reflections August 13,  2021

Our sense of belonging: What is it and why does it translate into an added value for your projects?

Sofía Acher   •  Communication Specialist   •  Linkedin
Fernando Fraga   •  Project Manager   •  Linkedin

After working with various projects, clients, and undergoing different processes, we distinguished something that implicitly happens in our teams and work dynamics that makes the difference on how we work and the results we achieve. This is the feeling of ownership towards the project, our sense of belonging with the client’s company. What does this mean and how does it arise in our organization? In this article we will answer this question and give you an idea of what to expect when working with us. An excellent service provider? Or maybe even more than that? What can be more than that? Why is the feeling of ownership important and what impact does it have on the success of your projects? Keep reading.

Everyone involved in the project -Developers, Testers, UI/UX Designers, Business analysts, Infrastructure engineers, and Project Managers- has to understand not only the technology but also what we are going to do, who we are going to do it for, and with what purpose. This is firstly achieved with the Requirement Gathering and by graphically prototyping our understanding, to then validating it with our counterparts. Therefore, the feeling of ownership starts from here, from the very beginning. It is the way to set the ground so that everyone knows what they will do, for whom, and why, once working on the project, and internalize that Onetree is not a service provider but a technology partner for our clients. This means that they do not request something and we do it, but that we make the most out of our experience, knowledge, and add value to what our clients already have. In many cases, what the original product was ends up being a little different based on our inputs on how to make it better or change its approach for the better. For these reasons, our commercial relationships end up being really long, our clients understand we “play for their team”, we are here to contribute as business technology partners who do our best to ensure success, instead of being only a service provider. 

In that first stage, understanding the product becomes a must, and the Project Manager plays an important role since they are the main point of contact for our clients, and the ones who will have to explain the client’s needs, target audience, and other aspects, to the entire team. Afterwards, the project and the processes start, which ameliorate with time and use, that make people live it as its own. We live the project with our client, sometimes we do not agree with the client’s decisions and since we have earned a place in which they trust us, we proactively make proposals that are taken into account as improvement suggestions. Oftenly, as time goes by and the work dynamic is set, they even end up already expecting proactivity and proposals from us. By using Scrum Tools and ceremonies, we take advantage of learning from what we do and how to improve it. The Retrospective meetings are a tool through which the entire team analyzes what could have done better as well as recognizing our own achievements. We evaluate our communication, our work dynamic, what may be failing and how it can be improved, as well as we recognize what is being done well. The latter is important because it gives us credibility in our project, which boosts our confidence and enthusiasm to keep on working and achieve success. All of this is what then makes us be proactive and propose. Altogether, this results in the team’s feeling of ownership over the project, which makes the team stronger, more solid, and makes the client see us as their partner, feeding up that feeling and the sense of belonging with their business. 

To exemplify what we are describing, we bring a project in which we experienced it. One of our clients did not have a place to centralize all its information concerning loans to their customers, they aimed to put all this information together in one only digital space: a Smart Portfolio. This project required an evolution from the team, going through UI/UX processes to fully understand the client’s need and advance, having their need always in mind and as a priority. The original idea grew a lot because based on their input we contributed and proposed, laying on our experience, flows’ improvements, and we understood the client’s pain points to suggest solutions. An example of this was that the mentioned digital space ended up having a tool for its administrators in which they could manage contents from the inside without depending on us as a software development company. We proposed that contents, messages, and everything we did through coding, could be run by them through an interface. This gave them the possibility to manage a help center that included, for instance, frequently asked questions, completely by themselves. We gave them the opportunity to stop needing us for administrative tasks and to be able to handle them totally on their own, independently. We were able to propose this because we felt the trust to do so in the work relationship with the client. Nowadays, this is something they already expect from us: our recommendations or proposals that they may have not thought of. 

For that sense of belonging to arise on the team, and all its positive consequences on the work dynamic we have been describing, empowering people and giving them the confidence that they can do it is key. As that trust we felt with the client in the example brought above enabled us to propose, the members of the team need to feel trusted by Project Managers or Team Leaders. This is the opposite of micromanagement, in which they may supervise every little action, one by one. We choose to give our people the freedom to make their own decisions, because this transmits “I trust that you can do it” to each member of the team. As well as making their own decisions, we consider that it is important for them to understand what they are doing, its impact and the impact of what they may propose, and to feel backed up by the Project Manager and the Team Leader. Feeling backed up is one of the most important secrets behind the success of building that feeling of ownership..

As this happens, we “live” the project much more than if we just thought of it as owned by the client, and the work dynamic changes. This means that when the situation is complicated, we are all on the loop, there are no surprises, we all make an extra effort and work together. In turn, when everything is going smoothly, we work relaxed. In a nutshell, even though we are different members in the team, we work as one and we always know how everything is going and how to react as a consequence in the project’s best interest. 

After experiencing different projects with different clients, we realized that all these characteristics made us function this way, altogether, solid and united as one, and giving our best with that feeling of ownership over the project guiding the way. This is what we experienced when working with Careangel, Rapid Sign Now, and Smart Portfolio. As a Project Manager, Fernando Fraga sees something in his team which makes him really happy and which evidences what has been said till now. “When the company finishes a quarter and we meet to review the results till that moment, all the members of the team are looking forward and enthusiastic to see if we surpassed the previous quarter’s results, how we did, and see the fruits of our labour, what I call: Onetree’s sense of belonging”.

Sofía Acher Communication Specialist   •  Linkedin
Fernando Fraga Project Manager   •  Linkedin