Planning Before A Customer Interview Is Completed - Project Management Mistake #1

August 6, 2008 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Project Plan Refinement, Requirements Management

Planning Before A Customer Interview Is Completed - Project Management Mistake #1 (#1 in the series 15 Deadly Project Management Mistakes Government Agencies Make Which Cost Them Revenue, Time & Efficiency)
By Keith Mathis - PM Expert Live

Project Management in a government setting is here to stay. It is one of those skills which help deliver the greatest value to the most individuals. During a time when all agencies are faced with tight budgets and limited staff, we must make sure we can complete projects in the shortest and most economic way. This series focuses on some of the most common blunders made by agencies when working on projects. Many of these mistakes are not a one-time event, but are part of the culture of the organization and happens in 90% of the projects.

Due to enormous pressure, project teams are faced with beginning activity on a project prior to completing a detailed project plan. This causes a great deal of hardship and mistakes which cost time and money for the organization as well as frustration to the project team.

Reasons why planning takes place before the interview

There are three basic reasons why planning takes place prior to a detailed interview of the customer and/or the project sponsor.

The first reason planning takes place before a thorough interview has been conducted is based on the fact that, in the American culture, we have substituted activity for planning. This means we want activities to be happening at a record pace to demonstrate that we are running the project, even though there is no plan in place. Unless project managers and project sponsors come to the understanding that interviewing the customer and setting precise objectives must be completed up front, we will continue to have blurry plans and numerous amounts of rework on our project.

The second reason why planning takes place prior to an interview is that no one has taken the time to understand the real goal and objective of the project. This means the project team is faced with having to plan the project on the run with limited understanding of the real goal. Planning a project while on the run is not an effective way of using manpower and resources for the project. In most cases, it will cause the project to take longer, cost more, and experience numerous gaps.

The third reason why project plans are created without an interview is the project sponsors and project managers do not see the benefit of getting all the information upfront. Some project managers have been trained in a culture that disperses information in small, bite size pieces rather than in large chunks. This means that the average project is being planned with only knowledge of the few short goals rather than a full understanding of what the project should look like at completion.

Need for interview

Interviewing the customer is the best way to gain a thorough understanding of the project’s objectives and goals. Unless a project sponsor or project manager has this knowledge, the project will take longer and cost more than anticipated, and, in many cases, will require a great deal of rework. All of these reasons emphasize the need to take the time upfront to interview the customer and make sure you understand their goal, objectives, and timeframe.

Dr. Keith Mathis, founder and CEO of The Mathis Group, specializes in Project Management, Management Leadership, and Marketing training for private businesses and government agencies of all kinds. He offers 33 Project Management courses, is a Project Management Professional, is certified by the Project Management Institute and will customize every training session to your individual company’s needs. The Mathis Group also sponsors www.pmexpertlive.com, which is a powerful project management resource with free reports, podcasts, videos, and a monthly newsletter. He also offers customized management training and coaching on any subject with prolific communication and professionalism.

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1 person has left a comment

I think that the requirements development process is much like a complicated dance between relative strangers. Like you mentioned, most people just want to start working without any kind of plan or direction. Getting to the heart of what is really needed, by asking and asking and asking questions is the only way to go, in my opinion.

LouisvillePM wrote on August 7, 2008 - 9:23 pm | Visit Link

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