Project Management

Are You Listening to the Voice of Your Customer?

Laura Dallas Burford is the founder of LAD Enterprizes, a management consulting firm that partners with consultants as well as internal and external consulting organizations to successfully build the operational and delivery aspects of their practices. Laura appreciates feedback on her articles and can be reached at She is the author of Project Management for Flat Organizations.

The project manager was distraught. The team had spent months developing the new application. The project had been completed on time, on budget, and met the scope statement’s agreed-upon outcome and metrics. The stakeholders were pleased with the results—that is, all but one. The key stakeholder, the sponsor, felt the application didn’t meet his quality standards—and he minced no words expressing disappointment.

The project, as with all projects, had its ups and downs. But the team delivered and met the quality standards that were agreed upon during scope creation. What the team had not done was met the sponsor’s personal quality expectations. The sponsor, although he never expressed it, expected the project team to exceed the minimum quality standards.

The result was a disappointed sponsor. The problem was no one on the team understood his desire because no one had specifically asked the sponsor—and no one had built a meaningful relationship with him. Building a meaningful relationship enhances your ability to not only provide the “right” quality product or service, but exceed expectations. Part of building a meaningful relationship means providing value, but how do you determine what is valuable to the stakeholder/sponsor?

An easy way to do this is to implement a business concept known as the voice of the customer (VoC)…

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"The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts the moment you get up and doesn't stop until you get into the office."

- Robert Frost