You’ve finally won that big client you were pitching for; months of meetings, planning, and conversations have paid off, and the hard part is at long last over. Or is it? In actual fact, the hard work has only just begun, and the initial stages of a project require just as much energy and commitment that was expended when trying to win the business.
The worst possible scenario is that the whole sales and project teams spend months winning a business over, only to fall over at the first hurdle during the project kick-off stages. The client will expect the same level of engagement throughout the entire project, and if this drops off as soon as the business is won, then everyone will be setup for disappointment.
Managing and maintaining client expectations is incredibly important to ensure that a good relationship is sustained, which will be paramount in times when the project falters; within a good relationship, the client will be understanding, but within a bad one, this could spell disaster.
So how can you manage the client’s expectations to ensure that you deliver a successful project?
Project Management Tools to the Rescue
The good news is that with careful planning and organisation, managing client expectations can become second nature. Essentially, what you get out of a project will be dependent on what you put in, meaning the power is in your hands to make a project fantastic for all.
The first task on any new project checklist should be for the sales and project management teams to arrange a thorough handover session, where the project manager will be briefed on the client’s background, the services they require, and the timeline they expect the project to be completed. Project management software can make this part of the process so much easier, where a dedicated “Handover Meeting” task can be created for each and every project, ensuring that this vital part of the process is never forgotten.
Once the handover process is completed, ensure that great expectations are set from day one by promoting open and honest communication to your client. Let the client know that they can contact you directly with any issues, ideas, or questions, so that a trusting and transparent relationship is formed.
By using dedicated software such as the Claromentis Project Management Platform, communication channels can be opened to facilitate collaboration between project managers, their team, and the client, allowing for a direct point of contact and space for discussion. This also allows project managers to communicate news – good and bad – to the client, promoting a proactive and hands-on approach to project management.
Having a dedicated area for project managers and clients to communicate will be key when needing to discuss important aspects of a project, such as turnaround times, budgetary requirements, and concerns.
By utilising a safe and open communication channel, you can continuously build upon your client relationships and they will be reassured that you are always on hand to help. Establishing expectations about the projects’ objectives, goals, strategies, and deadlines can often be the cause of confusion and lead to profound misunderstandings that could put the project in jeopardy, so by being prepared to listen to and address issues as they arise, you can be in a much better position to move the project forward.
Providing your clients with genuine input and advice about the project, however seemingly controversial, should not be underestimated, and will be a much better tactic than simply going along with whatever the client has said to keep them happy, something that is surely to be detrimental at some point.
As the relationship blossoms, you should aim to become a fountain of knowledge that the client can rely upon. This partnership will take time to build, but will be incredibly beneficial to all when important decisions need to be made.
Check back next week for our fifth & final blog – How to Solve Project Management Problems: Implementing Agile