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When You Suspect the Customer Might Be Wrong

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When You Suspect the Customer Might Be Wrong

A.Russell
I recently worked in a project where the requirement came from a client who wasn't very knowledgable about technology. The initial requirements were vague and contrary to subsequent, ever escalating requirements after a quote was made and work was well underway.

For example, intially a client insisted there was to be no multi-document interface and no tool strips or buttons, as they were far too complicated, against my advice. During development, he changed his mind and insisted on them.

My question is, when you receive requirents that you don't think the client really wants/ needs, how do you tell him he is wrong, or how else do you handle it.
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    BALTHOR

    And--"If you want this--this is what it will cost you".

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    ttocsmij

    The Customer requests bids and provides a detailed explanation of the work to be done.

    Review the Customer's requirements document and (assuming you wish to work for this Customer), respond with a bid including a list of the deliverables and cost for same. It is here you would add addendum(s) describing features that you believe would enhance the deliverable (including their estimated cost).

    The Customer reviews your bid and accepts it or rejects it. There may be questions which you should address promptly. In the end, the Customer will accept your bid or reject it. Either way, you will know what needs to be done and can get right to it.

    Note that there should be a contract clause stating specifically that changes requested after the contract is signed will be quoted separately; and will not be considered until signed off by the Customer as to scope, impact on the project time line, and cost.

    At no time should you argue or attempt to persuade the Customer that they don't know what they are doing. That is like arguing with a secretary or a policeman; how far do you think you will get?

    Does that mean that you have to design the product to exclude your enhancement ideas? No. You probably should design flexibly enough to add features later (since if you are correct they will be back for version 2 and why start from scratch, eh?). But remember that the Customer needs the product on-time.

    Now how do I arrive at this process? Well, I worked seven years for a company whose product was totally custom; ie all work was contract-driven. Yet time and time again we agreed to extra work and design changes after the contract was signed to make the Customer happy. Consequently we were constantly late and/or lost money on every contract. But our parent corporation had deep pockets and hoped we would do better next time. We didn't and we're no longer in business. But our competition followed the contract process described above. And they are now the world's leading supplier of the product.

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    Goody-tooshu

    I have the same things that happen to me! People that come into a business want to sound smart and know what they are talking about but they are always and normally wrong. They won't know all the things you do because they don't know all the facts and things that would happen behind the business. It's like a picture. You only see the front not the inside of what it is all about.

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    Why Me Worry?

    If the client forces a change in the scope of the project after the project is put on paper and in the process of being developed, then it should be required of the client to shell out additional cost for deviating from the original project scope. All project managers work this way, and even home builders/contractors. If the customer throws in additional items while the work is being done, then it should be billed back to the customer because the original scope of the work is now being deviated from.

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    0 Votes
    BALTHOR

    And--"If you want this--this is what it will cost you".

    +
    0 Votes
    ttocsmij

    The Customer requests bids and provides a detailed explanation of the work to be done.

    Review the Customer's requirements document and (assuming you wish to work for this Customer), respond with a bid including a list of the deliverables and cost for same. It is here you would add addendum(s) describing features that you believe would enhance the deliverable (including their estimated cost).

    The Customer reviews your bid and accepts it or rejects it. There may be questions which you should address promptly. In the end, the Customer will accept your bid or reject it. Either way, you will know what needs to be done and can get right to it.

    Note that there should be a contract clause stating specifically that changes requested after the contract is signed will be quoted separately; and will not be considered until signed off by the Customer as to scope, impact on the project time line, and cost.

    At no time should you argue or attempt to persuade the Customer that they don't know what they are doing. That is like arguing with a secretary or a policeman; how far do you think you will get?

    Does that mean that you have to design the product to exclude your enhancement ideas? No. You probably should design flexibly enough to add features later (since if you are correct they will be back for version 2 and why start from scratch, eh?). But remember that the Customer needs the product on-time.

    Now how do I arrive at this process? Well, I worked seven years for a company whose product was totally custom; ie all work was contract-driven. Yet time and time again we agreed to extra work and design changes after the contract was signed to make the Customer happy. Consequently we were constantly late and/or lost money on every contract. But our parent corporation had deep pockets and hoped we would do better next time. We didn't and we're no longer in business. But our competition followed the contract process described above. And they are now the world's leading supplier of the product.

    +
    0 Votes
    Goody-tooshu

    I have the same things that happen to me! People that come into a business want to sound smart and know what they are talking about but they are always and normally wrong. They won't know all the things you do because they don't know all the facts and things that would happen behind the business. It's like a picture. You only see the front not the inside of what it is all about.

    +
    0 Votes
    Why Me Worry?

    If the client forces a change in the scope of the project after the project is put on paper and in the process of being developed, then it should be required of the client to shell out additional cost for deviating from the original project scope. All project managers work this way, and even home builders/contractors. If the customer throws in additional items while the work is being done, then it should be billed back to the customer because the original scope of the work is now being deviated from.