What’s important for your client in this project?
Ask yourself this question every time you’re about to start a project. Even if you are not leading it, even if you’re use to working for that client, even if you have a great working relationship. You never know, something maybe different… Ask yourself this question to help you get the “Fantastic job!!!!!” accolade from your client at the end of the job.
Each project has a main deliverable, and requires an investment to produce it. In the end, the client for whom you build this deliverable will determine if the investment was worth it, based on:
- Specific requirements (mostly tangibles, easier to define)
- Values and expectations (intangibles, much harder to define)
Obviously, it’s a good thing to know as much about these things from the start, right?
Expectations are clarified at the beginning by defining specs and parameters. Then we scope, with assumptions. I have a few thoughts on these that I’ll tackle some other time.
The values of a project are what I want to discuss here… Values are intangible, and somewhat subjective. They cannot really be quantified; if you can they do it! They are about what the client finds important, at the time this project is to be produced (the previous project may have been different, and so is the next). Values are very important to understand from the start because:
- Values drive expectations, which in turn drive the approach, methodology, tools to be used;
- But more importantly, values serve as guidelines when decisions need to be made when
a crisisunexpected issues pop up during a project.
Here are values I’ve discussed in the past with clients, some of which are more obvious than others:
- Look and feel
- Accuracy of content
- Technological performance
- Alignment with standards
- Openness to other/future technologies
So here’s a question to you: is it realistic to consider all these at the same level, on every project you do? Of course not. The thing is, you cannot have it all! For one thing, it would be too expensive, and likely take too long. And worst: the project may never end! And even worst: you may likely start to look bad because you are going to start raising flags and the client will start thinking you are difficult to work with!!!!! Feel the escalation here? That would not be good for the relationship you are [constantly] building with this client, right?
Note: if this escalation happens, keep calm.
So… When you discuss these values with a client, you (both) need to put them in order of priority, by asking one question: what is the most important thing for you in this project? Of course you won’t be telling the client what to do… you will help your client decide.
It doesn’t mean anything below #1 will not be considered, as some will popup in the project’s requirements. It only means that once the project gets going, when issues pop up, #1 will be considered first, then the second, then the third…
Make sense? 🙂