Project Management

Dealing with That One Customer

Kenneth has 14 years of healthcare experience in government and private industry. Over eight years of experience managing healthcare IT projects, operations, contracts, and personnel. His work experience includes project management, contracts and procurements, data analysis, claims adjudication, business writing, and business process modeling. Kenneth was certified in 2006 as a Project Management Professional.

That one customer—everyone has one, and oftentimes no one has a clue what to do with them. They might be that person that is never satisfied with how the project is going. Or they might be the sole reason the project is not going very well. They bring a higher level of tension to the project team just by being there, and they never want to do anything to solve problems—they only know how to identify the problems.

As with all things on the project though, you have to learn how to deal with them and succeed in spite of (or perhaps around) them. As the project manager, it can be your special duty to deal with that one special customer.

Outliers are data points that are outside the normal range or unexpected values. That one customer is definitely outside the normal range. Sometimes they refuse to be reasoned with, and sometimes they say one thing and do another. It is important for you to realize though that they are indeed an outlier. Perhaps everyone else in the customer’s office is a pleasure to deal with and can work well with you and the project team.

Understanding that your special customer is an outlier may not make much of a difference in how they behave, but it can help you in dealing with them. And you will certainly learn to appreciate the customers that are easy to deal with.

Evaluation is simply a matter of stepping …

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- Albert Einstein