Project Management

The Customer Connection

Brad Egeland is an IT/project management consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management and project management experience leading initiatives in manufacturing, government contracting, gaming and hospitality, retail operations, aviation and airline, pharmaceutical, start-ups, healthcare, higher education, not-for-profit, high-tech, engineering and general IT.

It’s a recurring problem on projects--I’ve seen it so many times that it makes my head spin, and I’ll never get comfortable with it. Here’s the scenario: Sales--or whatever you call that governing body in your organization that actually closes the project deals--works with the client to get a contract in place. It’s not necessarily their main object to gather proper, accurate or even meaningful high-level requirements to get the project estimated and started on the right foot. It main not even be very high on their priority to make sure the client understands exactly what the services portion of the organization is going to do for them. And it’s certainly not No. 1 on their agenda to make sure the customer understands what is expected of them--what tasks are on their to-do list--in order to get the project off the ground.

In other words, customer expectations are often out of whack before the services part of the organization--meaning project management and delivery, meaning you--ever gets its hands on the project.

Handing it off blindly
What happens next can be frightening. You have a call or two with the account manager who closed the deal. You get some notes from them, maybe a draft or high-level shell of a schedule that they used to close the deal with the customer. It shows the customer that “we can do what you want in…


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