Project Management #1 – Empowering the client to become an “Intelligent Customer”

on Monday, 06 January 2014.

Crystal Clear Management Solutions have worked with a number of organisations, successfully delivering their programmes and projects.   One of the most important aspects is focusing on the right scope and structure before starting the project – getting crystal clear before embarking on a project is a must!

An initial study in a selection of construction projects shows that profit margins are sometimes less than 5%; therefore going wrong is not an option. How do these companies deliver the projects successfully within these tight margins? The overall feedback was getting the project right from the start to prevent project failure. This article summarises key steps to enable the client to become an “Intelligent Customer” ensuring they have a clear output, preventing statements like “this is not what I expected or want” and subsequently increasing the likelihood of success.

Starting with the end in mind makes sense and seems easy to implement, but the following are a few of the barriers which prevent us from getting it right from the start:

1)     Lack of one person/group making the final decisions and signing the scope
2)     Strategy confirmed and the pressure to get the project implemented
3)     The implementation team not allocating adequate time to understand the stakeholders, the overlaps, the impacts and the bigger picture.
4)     No clear understanding of what is expected and what the outcome is suppose to be.

Even with these challenges, there is adequate knowledge and information from best practice and successful project delivery to support and guarantee more project successes. So what is holding us back? The response was the need to change the attitude of clients and colleagues to really spend quality time to review the whole picture and understand the requirements before rushing into implementation mode?

The following are top tips to support your client and colleagues to start thinking with the end in mind and become the “Intelligent Customer”.

1)     Asking the client to visualise the project and its purpose.  Asking them to describe the outcome including the impact, output, consequences and benefits in a concise and clear way.  This enables clarity and alignment.

2)     Asking the client “What is the impact if the project does not succeed?” Listing all the consequences and impacts usually makes them realise the importance of upfront work.

3)     The cost / time curve – The cost of changes at the later date cost significantly more than at the feasibility stages.    Re-iterating this at the start to highlight that initial cost will be significantly less compared to overspend at a later date due to changes.

In the next instalment we will look at developing the right business case and engaging the stakeholders for project success.  We would love to hear your experiences on Project Management, Business Case and Engaging Stakeholders, please leave your comments here or contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Crystal Clear Management Solutions provides Project and Change implementation support to large and global businesses across Mining, Manufacturing, Energy and Utilities.

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