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Topics: IT Project Management, Leadership, Stakeholder Management
How can we help clients understand their role in meeting deadlines?
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I work for a relatively small web development company and too frequently I find that failing to meet deadlines is the result of the client's failure to provide necessary assets in a timely manner. Examples of delayed deliveries include:

- creative materials (fonts, logos, images, etc.)
- access to data
- static data or other content
- decisions about implementation details
- approvals (budgets, timelines, etc.)

What methods have other PMs found useful in solving this problem? A few broad possibilities are listed below. How effective have they been in your experience?

- incentives
- penalties
- better defined expectations in project origination documents (charters, SOWs, etc.)
- formal contracts
- others?
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Kick-Off meetings where you state exactly what you need in order to deliver on time and have this meeting minuted.

We recently developed a new website for our company and we followed the same process with the Web Development company we hired. All roles, requirements and responsibilities were clearly established and communicated so we had no trouble at all and the website was delivered on time with the team effort of everyone.
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Rami is correct, "state exactly what you need in order to deliver on time and have this meeting minuted". However I would clarify:
The customer needs to be aware that THEY are delaying the project, and exactly what is causing the delay.
This needs to be very well documented, not only in meetings, but written documentation. I.E. "failure to provide the widget by 9/19 @0900 will delay the project, costing the project $7500 / hr extra from that point on"
The customer needs to be aware that this is costing money, and that they will be charged for this. This is of course the sticky part. The contract needs to clearly spell out impacts due to delays, and methods for capturing costs.
I speak from experience, I have been burnt by not documenting customer delays sufficiently.
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I agree with you Warren - Documentation and clear communication is key.
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First: if you are in charge of the project any fail is because of you. You are there to make things hapend. Second: you have to review your company strategy about to deal with clients: win-win, win-lost, etc. Obviously you have to understand what does means "client" for your company. What all these on hand then you are able to make progress. Forget about other things if you have not these clear.
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1 reply by Keith Emery
Sep 19, 2017 3:13 PM
Keith Emery
...
Thank you for the response, Sergio. The reason I asked the question in the first place was to get advice about how to 'make things happen'. I am asking for strategies that have worked for others. If you have specific ideas please share them.

Thanks again,
Keith
Network:727



Sep 19, 2017 3:05 PM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
First: if you are in charge of the project any fail is because of you. You are there to make things hapend. Second: you have to review your company strategy about to deal with clients: win-win, win-lost, etc. Obviously you have to understand what does means "client" for your company. What all these on hand then you are able to make progress. Forget about other things if you have not these clear.
Thank you for the response, Sergio. The reason I asked the question in the first place was to get advice about how to 'make things happen'. I am asking for strategies that have worked for others. If you have specific ideas please share them.

Thanks again,
Keith
...
1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Sep 19, 2017 3:30 PM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
I will write about my experience because I was in your side. First of all, you have to understand what is the strategy of your organization regarding your clients. That will drive all your decisions. The strategy should be driver all other decisions like agreements and contracts. Second, you have to make stakeholders analysis to understand how to manage your stakeholders. For example, when I was in a similar place (according I understood from your post) we use some techniques like Solution Selling or SPIN Selling, Power Base Selling, LAMP to understand how to manager our client (while I am too far to be a seller). All these must be done before the project started.
Network:1284



Sep 19, 2017 3:13 PM
Replying to Keith Emery
...
Thank you for the response, Sergio. The reason I asked the question in the first place was to get advice about how to 'make things happen'. I am asking for strategies that have worked for others. If you have specific ideas please share them.

Thanks again,
Keith
I will write about my experience because I was in your side. First of all, you have to understand what is the strategy of your organization regarding your clients. That will drive all your decisions. The strategy should be driver all other decisions like agreements and contracts. Second, you have to make stakeholders analysis to understand how to manage your stakeholders. For example, when I was in a similar place (according I understood from your post) we use some techniques like Solution Selling or SPIN Selling, Power Base Selling, LAMP to understand how to manager our client (while I am too far to be a seller). All these must be done before the project started.
Network:8516



Rami & Warren are great advised, but I will add Transparency!

Transparency is key. If you explain to your client the implications that have don't follow the schedules and due dates, with real information, maybe you'll engage it...example:

- 1-day delay in creating a logo/material -- 8 hours of project management + 8 hours developer waiting for you equal XXXX $ that is equal to (here I use to show images as a Harley Davidson or other referent that the client will understand or love)

This kind of examples doesn't work with all clients, but I prefer that (with a signed contract with penalties) instead of incentives.

I'm not a fan of incentives because one day, maybe I won't have the budget for the incentives and they will not work without them.
Network:71086



Rami, Kickoff meeting is an important one, With clear roles and responsibilities.
Warren, yes track the delay the client generate, otherwise they are difficult to claim.
Mayte, transparency is nice and can be use when client cause delay

Put in writing to the client about delay generated by them, and transmit it.
I like incentive and penalties
Network:179



Hi Keith, this is a classic problem. The best way is to ensure a clear SOW and SLA. You must add clauses that ensure your protection as a service provider and must put responsibility on the client to provide resources on the agreed upon timelines, or levy penalties.
Network:9



I agree with what has been said here. Obviously the contract is key; it must address how delays will be handled, specially if you are on a fixed price contract. Communications and documentation are key, for sure.
The kick-off mtg is essential. It must be run by the project sponsor with all team members present to explain the objective of the project, the value to the company, and the roles and responsibilities. This is specially important when you have part time and remote team members for whom the project is not their first priority.
Once the project gets rolling, during your weekly status review of accomplishments you should issue a 4 week look ahead of tasks and deliverables by resource. This way everyone knows what is expected of everyone else and how their work impacts others. This can be done effectively in MS Proj through the resource sheet view with specified dates. And then follow-up and follow-up some more. When there is a lack of response, escalate to the project sponsor and invoke your change control clauses.
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