What is customer-centric project management?

Elizabeth Harrin provides this excerpt from her recent book Customer-Centric Project Management to help us understand just what traditional project management is missing and how project managers and organizations can stop focusing so strongly on the triple constraint (time, cost, quality) and spend more time delivering value and involving stakeholders in the outcome of projects. But even in this, Harrin suggests that we must rethink how terms are defined. Take, for instance, the idea of value and the term “Stakeholder”:
We believe that it’s time to rethink value, and rethink stakeholder management. Those people are not only stakeholders; they are customers of the project management process, and they get to decide what’s valuable. Project teams deliver a service, and should provide excellent customer service along with the deliverables that the project is producing. Project customers can be individuals or teams at all levels, colleagues or third party providers, and they should all get similar treatment. The person who holds the purse strings is not the only one who gets to decide if the project team is doing a good job. These days, everyone matters–more than they ever have before. Working together is the only (and best) way to deliver projects successfully.
There is a difficulty with this, of course. Traditional project management only asks for stakeholder involvement in the project process and post-implementation review. This doesn’t actually serve the customer very well at all: if there is in fact a problem with the process, they won’t have the opportunity to communicate it until well after the project is completed. Being customer centric isn’t quick. As Harrin explains, it’s a journey ““ getting project managers to change how they think about projects, involving customers in the process instead of just telling them what’s happening, and developing the tools to help provide the value necessary all take time. But keep in mind ““ it’s time well spent.

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