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Using Project Management Template for Customers

March 4 2010

When Your Customer Wants Everything – Use Project Management Templates

Have you ever noticed how some customers want everything thrown in including the kitchen sink?  “Change orders, you have to be kidding!  That work is supposed to be included!”  Have you heard that before?

As the project manager, when you run into one of these types of customers you have to be extremely careful.  You might find yourself way over budget at the end of the project if you aren’t.

I Want It My Way

Customers can be demanding.  That’s a given.  So, when you’re leading that type of a project, the best you can do is lay out the scope for them using Project Management Templates and manage to it.  Oh, and monitor deviations to project scope like a hawk because any deviations can send your project into a tailspin in terms of scope and cost.

Here’s what you have to do:

– Hold a formal kickoff.  Go through the statement of work (SOW) carefully with the customer.  Make sure that there is a mutual understanding on everything.  If something seems confusing, deal with it immediately.
– Develop a draft project schedule. Before the kickoff meeting with the customer, put together a draft project schedule that is based primarily off of the SOW.  Present it to the customer during kickoff discussions and modify it as needed from these discussions.  And get customer agreement on it because this Project Plan will also basically identify your baseline project scope.
– Discuss the change order process.  Change orders are necessary when the customer is asking for something that is outside the agreed upon scope of the project.  If you have a demanding customer, then it’s likely that you’ll go through a few change orders during the course of the engagement.  Explain your change order process to the customer so they understand up front that they’ll be paying for things they want that fall outside the scope of the project.  But also be ready for some negotiations because customer generally want what they can get for free and will need convincing to pay extra.
– Document, document, document.  Produce regular status reports, route notes from weekly status calls to all participants, and do a thorough job of documenting any scope changes – especially as they pertain to change orders.  And above all else, get official signoff agreement from your customer on deliverables and change orders.  If the customer doesn’t sign it, they aren’t likely to pay for it.


Customers are generally great.  Most of what I love about Online Project Management centers around customer interaction and management of customer expectations.  However, you’re bound to run into difficult customers from time to time.  They may even warn you up front that they’re going to be difficult. I’ve had that happen.  The best thing you can do is make sure you’re covered by discussing changes in detail with the customer, show them that you’re confident and in control of the project, and always get customer signoff.  They may hate to pay extra, but if they see the value, then their satisfaction will remain high.