Defining the Role of the Customer

The CompTIA objective that handles this section might at first seem to be a bit imprecise. The objective says, in part: "The role of the customer (sponsor) of the project..." However, it' s important to understand that the customer may not be the same person as the sponsor. Recall that the sponsor is the person who wants the project to succeed. The customer is one who will benefit from the project. These are not necessarily the same thing.

Suppose that you' ve been commissioned to act as the project manager for a project that will provide significant upgrades to the customer relationship management (CRM) software for your company' s call centers. The customer or client is the direct recipient of the CRM software upgrades—in this case, the call center agents who actually use the software, along with their managers. But the sponsor might well be the vice president for customer relations, who doesn't directly benefit from the upgraded software but who is certainly interested in customer calls being answered faster and better by the enhancements the project results in.

Tip In project terminology, the words client and customer can be used interchangeably.

Probably the biggest problem you' l l encounter as you work through a project is that many clients don 't go through a formal project change process in order to get an enhancement made to some facet of the project' s deliverables. The client might go directly to a team member and request "just this one little thing." The problem with this kind of activity is that the "one little thing" isn' t conveyed to anyone else on the team, and the whole task addition tends to mushroom due to the lack of information. It must be clear that the IT group and/or the project team should be the only people that can request changes due to technology issues, and that any change must be requested through defined procedures. When clients ask for "one little thing" too often and such requests are granted, your project can quickly suffer from scope creep—a phenomenon in which the scope grows without anyone being aware of it until it' s too late. Budget and schedules suffer when scope creep happens, and the deliverable is often late.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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