November 2017
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Signs You Should Worry: Customers

The customer is always right – except when the customer is wrong.

Project managers are notorious complainers. When asked how a project is going, the invariable answer is “fine”, but when asked about the customer, they are often less pleased. The customer wants to change the plan. The customer does not understand the product or the process or the difficulty of what they want done. The customer is being unreasonable, etcetera.

It is natural to take these complaints with a grain of salt, as the natural letting off of steam by managers that are often under a lot of pressure. There are times when these grumblings may be signs of deeper problems, however, problems that need addressing.

Here are some indications that your project may be having problems with the customer.

Customer Commitment

  • No project champion
  • Lack of senior customer staff involvement
  • Project management does not control budget
  • Visible internal customer conflict over project
  • Poor user commitment

Customer Dissatisfaction

  • Any delay in payment
  • Customer is unhappy with project results or process
  • Customer requests intervention by senior management at project firm

Customer Relationship

  • “Difficult” customer project managers
  • Poor working relationship with customer’s project team
  • Your team see the customer as the enemy
  • Changes in the customer’s project management
  • Frequent complaints about information flow/sharing

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