5 things your project client wants you to know

Client communication can often be difficult. Trying to read a client’s mind isn’t always the best approach. Here’s a guideline on what most clients want you to know.

“As we get involved in a project we sometimes operate with blinders on, focused more on the solution than the customer. Here are five things that your client wants you to know that you may not realize or be thinking about.

Original article by: Brad Egeland (Twitter @begeland) at CIO.com.


We get the project, we meet with the client, kickoff the whole engagement formally, map out requirements and then start work on designing, developing and implementing the right solution for our project customer. Certainly, I just simplified about 250 tasks of a project Gantt chart in one sentence, but you get the idea. We serve the customer and deliver on the project. Along the way we are often doing a lot of work outside of customer involvement – knowing we have been chosen to deliver on the project and that the project client basically considers us to be the expert and the best organization to deliver a quality end solution.


Given that, we sometimes operate with blinders on. Focused on delivering the best solution possible, we may get a little too focused at times. So, here are five things that your project customer wants you to know regarding the current project you’re working on for them.

  1. They want you to succeed. You may think the customer is being critical, prying or disapproving. They may be asking lots of questions, but what they really want is for you to succeed. They have a lot of time, energy and money riding on this and they chose you to deliver on it. You can rest assured that whoever in the customer organization championed you and your organization to handle the project REALLY wants you to succeed because success makes them look good and failure makes them look really bad.
  2. It’s their money, not yours. We often get caught up thinking we are managing our budget on the project as we perform forecast planning and analysis. In a way we are, but in reality we are managing the customer’s dollars. They put up the funds and if change orders are needed, it will be coming from their funds.
  3. Communication is everything. Your customer – in general – likes a lot of communication. The more you communicate, the more they perceive you to be in control and for success to be imminent. The less you communicate, the more they imagine things aren’t going well and they tend to get frustrated and/or concerned. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  4. They have a day job. The project is yours to deliver on. You want to keep them engaged, but usually they have a day job. Meaning, overseeing this project is just a small piece of what they do for their job. Likely it is an add-on. So they won’t always be available, especially on a moment’s notice. Proceed if you can’t reach them, but keep them well informed. They’ll be back.
  5. They are less prepared than you think they are. Finally, they try to sound prepared coming into the engagement with great requirements and a planned out solution. They really aren’t that prepared, but they are trying to get you and the project off on the right foot.


The bottom line is this – our project customer supports the delivery team’s efforts and wants us to succeed. They also want their project well managed and will help in any way they can. They also want their project dollars handled properly and want to see accountability for that – at least periodically. As our audience for this content as well as experts in the PM field, do you have any tips like these to add to the list?”


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