In Project Management, the Customer Is NOT Always Right

by Work Management Blog/ AtTask

The old adage of “the customer is always right” has been drilled into the brains of businesses for what seems like forever. But, in a post for the AtTask Work Management Blog, Ty Kiisel writes that this isn’t always the case, especially in project management.

Kiisel writes that since the role between the project sponsor and the project manager is often not well defined, the sponsor sometimes assumes too much control of the project — which can lead to failure.

He recounts an previous experience with a sponsor overstepping his bounds during product development.

“Unfortunately, when disaster was evident to even the project sponsor, he was unwilling to take any responsibility for it,” he writes. “Sponsors have ‘selective memory’ when it comes to conversations about scope changes and the ultimate cost.”

Kiisel goes on to suggest several tactics for preparing for and dealing with project sponsors who may not be right.

Define roles upfront.

If this isn’t something that has been formalized within the organization, it will be up to the project manager to help the sponsor understand his or her project responsibilities, Kiisel says. But he points out that a well-connected sponsor is often critical in pushing a project through development to completion.

Identify the end from the beginning.

As important as a good beginning may be to a project, Kiisel says, it’s even more critical that the completion stage is also defined. “Without a clear definition of what “done” looks like, it’s possible to get caught in the “never-ending project”,” he writes.

Kissel goes on to suggest more tactics, such as suggesting an alternative time line and the offering  “drop by” access in the full post, which is definitely worth the read.