Project Management

5 Types of Project Customer (and How to Manage Them)

People come in all shapes and sizes. Some are explicit with their aspirations and intentions, while others mask their true desires. So how can you distinguish amongst the myriad customers and deliver what they want or need? In a post for the PM Perspectives Blog, Elizabeth Harrin elaborates on the five types of customers you may encounter and how to handle them:

  1. The customer with commitment issues
  2. The customer with too little time
  3. The customer who micro-manages
  4. The customer who is indecisive
  5. The jackrabbit of a customer

Customer Customized

Some people simply struggle with the concept of commitment, and this is certainly true for customers. There are some customers who will constantly want to alter elements of the project and establish new requirements. This inconsistency can be frustrating, but documenting all of the changes and illustrating to them the negative impact can help to remedy the situation.

When a project is important, the time needs to be made from all parties. Unfortunately, some customers are just “too busy” to make the project a success. Be sure to explain to this type of flaky person that their absence will slow down the project, and if they truly do not have time they should be giving their position to someone with more time.

Nothing is worse than having someone constantly peering over your shoulder to make sure the work is up to their standards. This kind of micro-managing can slow results because the customer demands to be involved in every decision. It may be beneficial to negotiate with this type of person and allow for them to be involved in some aspects of the project, but not all.

Indecision is a rampant problem that can really harm a project. This type of customer may need help with direction from a business analyst. Additionally, more time should be taken in the beginning stages to define what direction the project should take.

Some people are insistent upon immediate results and instant gratification. Time can appear to be their biggest enemy. It is important that these customers have the schedule and timeline explicitly laid out for them, so they understand why some things need more time than others.

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