21 de abril de 2013

Getting the client happy with everything

Effective Project Managers know very well that stakeholders’ management is the most important project knowledge area. A project only finishes when stakeholders have met or exceeded their expectations. That is: when they are happy with the project result.

Each project has many stakeholders, but one of them especially important to manage: the client, the one who pays for it —we should extend this group of special interest with final users, the ones who are to use the product, service or result. 
In many service oriented companies is usual that the person who sold the project tries to centralize communication with the client. Effective Project Managers do their best to manage client expectations by themselves with the least intermediation.

If we don’t get client actively interested in our project during execution, or gets surprised or upset with the final result, then our project will be a great failure. 

One boss of mine used to say: “In projects, client has to be happy with everything but the price.” 

But “Getting client happy with everything” is easier said than done, isn't it?

What techniques do we need? The top of the iceberg is effective communication, but on the base we have all the project knowledge, standards like PMBOK®, all the experience and lessons learned. 

This is a list of some expectations clients usually have on each project knowledge area:

  • Integration Management is important for them: Clients and users see the Project Manager as the single point of contact and the main source of information. Project Managers centralize issue and change management, the process, the results and project management overall.
  • Scope Management: They expect us to manage requirements, being able to distinguish what they ask from what they really need, reconciling real needs with project objectives.
  • Schedule and Cost Management: Clients need project results quickly and cheap.
  • Quality Management: We will fail if we deliver a product that clients and users perceive as “poor quality”.
  • Resources Management: They know that results are better with good professionals working right.
  • Communication Management: Communication is the way we relate each other. Until you deliver the product, or a part of it, the only thing stakeholders can see is communication.
  • Risk Management: Clients don’t like crisis.
  • Procurement Management: We may subcontract other parties, but in face of the client we are prime responsible. 

In conclusion, “getting the client happy with everything” has very much to do with everything related to Project Management. Where do we need to focus communication, then?

To the best of my knowledge, the habit of managing expectations has to be especially trained in two fronts: 1) Change Management (don’t confuse with issue management) and 2) Quality Management.

Click here to read the Spanish version of this article. 
Click the label English to see the other articles written in English.

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