Project Management

Getting Engaged

Southern Alberta Chapter

Mike Griffiths is a consultant and trainer who help organizations improve performance through shared leadership, agility and (un)common sense. He maintains the blog LeadingAnswers.com.

Agile methods encourage partnering more closely with the business customer to benefit from shorter customer feedback cycles. When this works, it’s great--we get quick confirmation of deliverables and engage in collaborative evolution toward the true business requirements as opposed to the originally stated requirements that may have been flawed or incomplete.

Yet poor customer feedback can really undermine progress. Effectively, the customer has become a more central member of our project team and just like a poor BA, developer or QA, the impact of a weak customer link is significant.

Customer engagement issues often stem from confusion over roles and levels of involvement. Perhaps the customer has not been invited into development teams before and may feel uncomfortable speaking out about potential gaps in functionality early in the project when work is still underway. This is why it is important to clearly outline benefits of good feedback and the issues with poor feedback.

For project managers, some warning signs of poor customer engagement can be:

  • Little or no customer feedback. If in following a demo or promotion of functionality to a test environment for customer review we get very little feedback, then the optimist in us may think “Great, we must have nailed it, there have been no complaints or requests for changes.” Yet it is …

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