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Problematic client!!!!!

By Terziev ·
I am a Project Manager in a software development company and am working with a client on a web application. And I do not what to do....
The client is never satisfied, whatever our team does. Always complains that the application is difficult, unituitive, does not match the original specifications, etc. Problem is, the specification our client likes so much misses major points and provides very scarce and irrelevant information about many aspects. It also shows little technical knowledge but the Project Manager on behalf of the client wishes that we follow the spec one to one. Can anyone suggest what I should do in with clients like that -- that just love paperwork, do not have much technical knowledge and foresight, and do not wish to leave anything to the discretion of the development team....

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You have fallen into a trap!!!

by parsonsac In reply to Problematic client!!!!!

You are experiencing the problems that emerge whenever a project is insufficiently spec'd. Project specification is the single most important phase of any project!!!

I can see no other option than to follow the original specification, (with all of its omissions) and once completed the client company will soon see their project managers shortcomings

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This IS the Wat To Go!!!

by donq In reply to You have fallen into a tr ...

Because the "Specification" represents your companys ONLY enforcable document, AND it was originally accepted it MUST be followed to eventually insure you get paid. I would definately document "in-writing" your concerns with the current spec. and validate through registered mail your warning is received. Then do EXACTLY what the spec says, or stop until you receive a revised specifcation from your client.

You are not alone!

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I concur

by xxx123 In reply to Problematic client!!!!!

During specification phase, you can always meet with the client and suggest changes/enhancements, etc. But you cannot start construction, and then say, "Well, he hasn't a clue what he REALLY needs" and then go off and design something completely different. If the client is truly obstinate in the design phase, you can refuse the project knowing you will be saving yourself a lot of grief later on. (That's why design/spec phase is often quoted separately.)

If you uncover a showstopper design flaw, you have to stop and go back to the client. Otherwise you're stuck when he doesn't like your choices and refuses to pay.

No client has perfect understanding of the technology - - if he did, he wouldn't need you. But you have to bridge the gap, not just drive off and leave him in the dust.

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Needs tactful handling

by eujay In reply to Problematic client!!!!!

This is an interesting problem.

Does the client have a boss that you can bring into the picture ? If you bring his boss in then maybe the boss will override him.

If not then is there a way that you can make a quick and dirty version of what the client is asking for, a model if you will of what he is asking for.

If you can do this and present it as being something like what he wants then give it to him for approval. Then he himself is going to find out all about what it will not do and then he will have to come back to you asking for something different.

I would be very careful about this whole thing because if you go ahead and complete the project and give him the crappy product he wants then when it doesn't work right and/or has flaws the client may find out and will then bad mouth you for doing the crappy job he has asked for.

Please keep us posted on progress I am very interested in this.


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That's one of the major problems!

by Terziev In reply to Needs tactful handling

You are right, we will take the blame for delivering a bad product even though we were following the spec 1:1. But you see, it is very interesting that the client is very sensitive to "following the specification" and disproves of anything that is not in line with what he has put, but when we add something essential that he missed, there are no complaints:))

Will keep you updated:)

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Another problem

by Terziev In reply to Needs tactful handling

I forgot to mention what is, at least in my opinion, the reason for the whole mess...

The problem is that the Client wrote a specification before choosing a technology and not all of the things he has envisioned are achievable at the same time:) And then the specification was handed over to me after it was approved. So my advice to all that are reading this is to participate as much as you can in the spec development so that you are not trapped like I am in the moment. Otherwise you will have to be very creative and reach unreachable deadlines adn budgets:)

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by epepke In reply to Problematic client!!!!!

Don't accept the specification until you are completely happy with it and the client signs off on it. Rewrite it if you need to.

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Tough Roe to Hoe!

by jeff.tibbitts In reply to Specification

I can empathize, many clients are difficult to deal with for various reasons -- yours sound especially so!! But, regardless of whether the client is an idiot or a genius, they are paying you to design a product meeting their specifications and the "customer is always right"!

Advise your client where and why you feel changes should be made in writing and record their decision -- then press on! If the issues are big enough to discredit your company after development -- perhaps the decison to"cut your losses & walk away" is warranted.

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Cut your losses

by epepke In reply to Tough Roe to Hoe!

You're not a medieval serf, and the customer isn't always right.

Nobody believes that the customer is always right anyway. Nobody thinks that a customer who returns damaged goods or shoplifts is right.

The corresponding IT customer is the onewho comes up with poor specifications in order to be able to squeeze out more than they have bargained for.

A specification is, for all intents and purposes, a contract. If it isn't to your liking, don't sign off on it.

(How does one hoe roe,anyway? I always thought they used little spoons to get it out of the fish.)

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The Ethics of Business

by Shanghai Sam In reply to Cut your losses

We agree that specifications are contractual requirements. One of the original customer complaints was failure to follow the specifications -- like it or not, when a consultant accepts (key word) a job, the customer's requirements are "right". If you professionally disagree, present your suggeseted changes, document the decision, and either follow the customer's wishes or "cut your losses" & walk away. Again, the consultant's decision.

I always think a customer that returns damaged goods is right. A shoplifter however is not a customer -- they are a thief.

(Unfortunatley, my typing skills are a bit rusty -- the phrase should have been "Tough Row to Hoe". The "w" key happens to be right next to the "e")

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