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On the first part of this post, a review of the typical situations that raise from projects with unrealistic objectives was given and analysis of the situation when the customer is not involved was presented. It was pending to review the options when the customer is involved in trying to reconduct the project. 

In order to  review this alternative, let’s see the most relevant and frequent cases to start a project from a troubled situation, where we can consider that involving the customer can help to solve the problem, are:

  • Urgency to approve the project even when the objectives are not well enough defined.
  • Strong budget adjustment to beat competitors or meet customer price.
  • Changes in early phases of the project, typically in the case of external providers, between proposal submission and acceptance.
  • As an specific case of the previous, delay in project launch with no possibility to delay delivery date; as the song says “You can’t hurry love” nor customer acceptance.

What all the previous points have in common is that customer ( either internal or external ) shares responsability in the situation; this doesn’t imply that when the customer doesn’t share the responsability, it doesn’t makes sense to involve him.

Customer attitude once involved in the solution of the troubled situation will determine the success possibilities. And what happens very often is that the customer feels himself cheated as very early in the project the provider suggest adjustment is needed. In some cases the project has been awarded as a public auction or RFP with very detailed specs, very short term to reply, tough price competition and political pressure to have a winning proposal. In the best case, the customer will have little or none margin to adjust ( uncapacity ) but in most cases he simply will refuse to enter this redefinition process ( unwillingness ). Very often the customer will have a mistrustful attitude that will have to be overcome along the project.

When the customer is able to help in bringing the project to the success track the most important milestone has been achieved. From that,  if the project doesn’t achieve the objectives ( in the new version ), it will be only because of lack of skills of the project management team, provider and customer, to reconduct the situation ( unability ).  And the cause is typically the failure to act quickly enough to redefine the scope while the project is ongoing.

 But, in any case, it doesn’t matter if the customer participated in the effort to reconduct the project or not, when the adjust doesn’t happen the only alternative to have a successful project is to put all the effort internally in trying to save the situation by pressing the team to produce a result that can be sold as meeting specifications in many cases dedicating significant overtime.