Categorized | Management

5 ways in which the Client can ruin a project

Despite that all projects require some form of resources, the role of the customer, and its relationship with the project team can in many circumstances become complex. Whilst the client is integral to the project – they approve the budget after all, their roles and responsibility can be ambiguous. There are no hard and fast rules about to what extent the customer should be integrated within the project team and an over zealous one that interferes in day to day activity can often do more harm than good.

Once a project has been established a typical customer will usually do one of three things

1/ Devolves responsibility solely to the project manager
2/ Retains some involvement – seat on the steering committee / members in the project team
3/ Dictates/ interferes with the day to day workings of the project team including working practices, methods etc

Indeed there are many circumstances where the client can be a disruptive force within the project, they may feel that they know best – that the project team is making mistakes or is not experienced enough to meet the requirements. Whilst this may result from good intentions in most cases, the customer is actually doing more harm than good.

Consider the following areas where the customer may have a part to play and the adverse effect that could result.

1/ Ambiguous requirements – Ambiguous or poor requirements can lead a project team to deliver a poor quality, costly product.
2/ Constant change / scope creep – constantly changing requirements can lead to higher cost, fluctuating schedules and disgruntled project teams
3/ Lack of decision making – customers have a key role to play in supporting the project by making key decisions, where these aren’t made in a timely fashion the project can be hampered. This is especially true where the project incorporates milestones and gate reviews that require approval before passing onto the next phase of the project.
4/ Dictating ineffective working practices – Whilst the project team may establish their own delivery methods, where the customer, usually with good intentions tried to intervene this can affect both schedule and cost and increase levels of risk.
5/ Failing to complete project actions – The project team is often reliant on the client in carry out activities in the support of the project schedule – this may be in the form of information, raising purchase orders for materials etc. Where the customer fails to undertake agreed tasks this can slow the project down.

These are just a few of the areas in which a customer may adversely affect the outcome of a project. If you’ve got experience and would like to contribute feel free by using the comments sections below.

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