There is a vast difference between doing a service project and building own product. It begins with client interaction – Clients are of following types:
a) Simple and no-nonsense
b) Entrusts full responsibility to you
c) High flying without any substance
d) Detailed oriented
Simple no-nonsense – These customers are the easiest to handle. You have to explain the as-is condition of the project/tasks. They will appreciate that and will understand the situation that you are in. They might not agree with your decision, of course expecting that is a little too much, isn’t. However, they will not create a ruckus in the project. You will be continued to express your opinion, thoughts on the project, continue to perform at the highest level. No problem.
Entrusts responsibility – These customers are a little tricky to handle. Initial days of the project you are not sure if he will understand the complexity of the project. Be it technical or functional, be it created by you or faced by him. You have to resolve it for him, for you and for the success of the project. You cannot pass on the buck to him. You decide the tech stack, team members, freeze the scope for his business requirement. Huge responsibility. Easy for (well) trained folks.
High Flying – More often than not, these customers have book knowledge of thigs being handled. No direct experience. These customers are dangerous because they won’t trust you easily. The team has to be cautious when answering such customers. These customers mostly depend on ‘Google’ to validate the solutions provided. And we all know Google gives what you search or ask for!!! Sometimes also gives what you didn’t exactly ask 🙂 Be cautious and don’t take it for granted.
Detail Oriented – These customers are rather simple to handle. These customers know the subject but would definitely expect you to follow the defined process/steps. You have to be like them to have a smooth sailing in the project. The details start from Project plan, Requirement analysis and go into all phases of the project. One drawback in handling these customers is that we tend to assume certain tasks/activities as granted. Do that at your own peril. Procedure and Process.
To summarise there is no pre-defined process or a one-size fits all for executing customer projects. Project Management is more to do with Person than Projects. A tough project with a simple client is better than handling a simple project with a tough customer.