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Client Relations

By oliverboyer ·
This is an unusual one, and I must be the youngest.
I became a project manager for a firm about 10 months ago (I am 19) for a info system, just because i can do things well etc.. and other systems i have done.
From the start I have always been weary of this project as the documentation was lost and the thing was never completed (Access/VBA system for a production plant written about 8 years ago).
Worrying problems have started with testing since we built onto it. My team contains 3 internal employees (who are overworked, underpaid etc), and myself and a programmer who we work together. I am contractor (without a contract). The 3 internal workers are kinda feedback, testers, requesters, and some know somethign about the old system. No ONE KNOWNS HOW TO USE THE SYSTEM COMPLETELY! Only parts of it.
The problems started when we didn't know how to test the stupid thing. The sponsor put heaps of pressure on the internals team employees and then on me. The internals armed themselves like any person would and deffended themselves.
Now, the sponsor has taken over, threatened to get rid of my company (external support), offended me to some extent, upset my guys who work with me. We complied and resovled issues that had occured. He was then happy. Now he is trying to control the entire project (it doesnt matter what i say to anyone on the other end), and the guy seriously does not know anything about databases etc.. the internal employees are confussed, lost, breaking all the rules to database design etc..
Problem is we need this client as it is our main one and we are all at college, so we need the work.
We are almost threw this project (testing/resolving small things), and if we are going to work with them, they are going to have to understand that they must not take shortcuts, cause negative tenstion etc.
Before you comment on this, the above is slightly personal, i am not taking this personal with them, only amoungest my workers and them.
Its not us, and we have been told by their employees and we have all had better success with other clients/experiance.
My question is how to you get this back on track??! I am thinking of re-talking this over once we get the the 2nd phase of the project i.e after this current one is done, e.g. in a month.
Thanks for your time,

Olie

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Getting back on track

by blaque In reply to Client Relations

Firstly, you are to be commended for stating your desire clearly as wanting to get this back on track. That becomes the objective of the exercise you want to embark on. Your situation calls for a variety of skills & solutions. There's valuable information available in the Management & Project Management areas of the site. Off the top of my head, hopefully this will help you.
1. Focus on the problems, not the people. Define the problems in a neutral, non-personal manner.
2. Assign ownership & responsibility for each area of the system or each problem. Don't have everyone trying to do/look over everything.
3. Audit the system. Document the what it does - again, this responsibility should be assigned to 1 or 2 persons specifically.

Now the client:
1. Take a deep breath. And allow the possibility that the client has valid concerns. Ask yourself "WHY" is he trying to control everything?

2. If you want the client to get off your case & let you do your job, you need to build trust & confidence. For him to trust you, you'll have to prove that you know your stuff - hence the suggestion of the audit. He may feel a need to take control because he did not feel that your team was in control.

3. Whatever solutions or actions you want to discuss with him, make it clear you have his interests at heart. It's about making his life easier.

4. Find out what he is being held accountable for. Relate the solutions to how that helps him achieve his goals.

It does happen that despite your best efforts, sometimes it still doesn't work out. Don't beat yourself up over it.

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