Posted by: Vikas Sahni | February 8, 2011

Managing Clients – A Different Approach

Been a while since I last blogged, so here is a non-technical one about managing your clients in these difficult times. This is based on my talk at BizCamp Newry yesterday and the feedback from the audience. Special thanks to Chris McCabe, Eve Earley and Nichola Bates.

Unpaid Initial Meetings

Till you get a Purchase Order, the client is still a prospect. During this period, you may have to go for a number of meetings, which can be broadly classified into three categories:

  1. Fishing for information
  2. Genuinely looking to gauge competence
  3. Planning for Kick-off

There is no guarantee that you will get the work, these meetings are primarily marketing activitites.

BE PREPARED TO WRITE OFF AS MARKETING EXPENSES

Delay in POs

The next stage where you need to change your approach is when the client has given a verbal go ahead. Times are different, and anyone can go under for no fault of their own these days. Therefore, keep in mind that:

  1. Verbal confirmation NOT good enough
  2. Start work if you have time, but DO NOT tell client
  3. Milestone based agreements / statement of work
  4. Push delivery dates if PO is delayed

USE THIS TIME TO BUILD PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS – TRY TO BECOME A TRUSTED ADVISOR

Things to watch out for

Now you have the PO…but times are still different. Therefore, watch out for the following incoming missiles from your client:

  1. Change Requests
  2. Unplanned Demos
  3. Pushing Delivery dates forward
  4. Management changes

ALL THESE NEED MORE MONEY AND COMPROMISE QUALITY

Scope Creep

This is a doube-edged sword – can be the best source of revenue if handled well, and at the other extreme, result in significant losses. Keep an eye on areas where scope can get increased if you are not careful, such as:

  1. Expanding Grey Areas – pleading common sense
  2. Raising in Bug Reports
  3. Related, but Out of Scope

DO THE MINOR ONES FOR FREE IF THIS BUILDS TRUSTED ADVISOR RELATIONSHIP

Delay in Payments

In order to avoid hassles, consider the following…

  1. Now you know why the PO…
  2. and the Milestones!
  3. Think before going legal – do you have the time and money?

NEVER FORGET – CASH IS KING

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