A customer orders a fishing boat. It’s a decked-out beauty. Teak decks. Twin Cummings diesel engines. Flybridge. Tuna tower. Sonar. Radar. Posh salon. Lifeboat. VHF radio. It’s sold as a turn-key package: ready to go. Hop aboard; go fishing.
The owner is a new dot-com zillionaire, but he has no experience piloting a boat. He flies off to the Canary Islands to take ownership. Then heads offshore with a boat-load of friends. Ten miles out of the harbor, the boat runs out of fuel. There is no anchor and no anchor line. The boat drifts for 6 hours side-to in a heavy swell, his passengers become violently seasick. The captain is humiliated when the coast guard arrives and puts a mate on board to take command of the vessel. They levy a fine for safety violations.
What happened? The client (the boat owner) purchased what he thought was a turn-key system. He assumed that since it was turn key, it was ready-to-go. The vendor (he built the boat) knows there are certain things a boat captain must do every time he gets on board: fill the fuel tank and make sure there are enough life-jackets to go around. The owner did not think about buying an anchor and rope because the boat was sold as “turn key.” The problem here is communication.
ExpectationsIn a software project there is little risk of getting seasick, but setting expectations with the client is still important. The client will be frustrated if:
1) the system integrator said he would provide the most experienced staff, yet junior programmers are dispatched to the project
2) the system integrator said it would take 6 months to deliver the software, yet 9 months later, nothing is in production
3) the client has had to engage more of his own employees on the project than was initially suggested; affecting their other work
4) the budget is blown
A well-written proposal and request-for-proposal could address these resource, performance, and budget issues ahead of time. Scope must be spelled out. Programmers can get bogged down working on requirements that are only 'Nice to Have' and out-of-scope.
Someone needs to communicate status, address issues, and set expectations up and down the chain-of-command. At the top, the project sponsor needs visibility into project status and needs to know about blocking issues before they become a crisis. There might be the tendency to relay good news to the client while glossing over bad news.
A lot can change from the time the contract is signed to when the implementation is well-underway. If the project has wandering off course, it is necessary to sit with the client again and agree on goals, resources, and timelines. If the wrong project manager is assigned to the project, the system integrator might have to add another resource to manage communications. Some people have the ability to communicate at the executive level, others do not.
Budget. Unless this is a fixed-price project, the budget is a point of continual negotiations. The client and vendor have to agree on time reporting and time approval procedures. It causes stress for the project sponsor to go back to management to seek additional funding.
Good communications are needed to manage expectations and deliver projects successfully.
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Our passion is business efficiency enhancement for our clients via smart application of automation techniques.We are winners of international awards for our innovations in business productivity.
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