How important is it to get the Customer Involved during the execution of a project? And I don't mean superficially. Instead, have the customer working with you every step of the way to ensure that together a solid solution is delivered.

Now, while I do understand that this is very difficult to accomplish in most cases as you have to deal with a variety of customers. For e.g: Those that expect to hand over everything to you and wash their hands of things, those that haven't the faintest idea of what they want and so on.

Having experienced a bit of both there is something to be said about working hand in hand with that one customer who wants to build a partnership rather than just a client - vendor relationship and develop something that both parties can be proud of.

Domain Knowledge and an understanding of how the customer does business plays a huge role in delivering a successful service. Therefore it is in the best interests of the project team to get the customer involved in the building process. Soliciting inputs and clarifying positions are a necessity of doing such work and while we do try to restrict everything to the first phase of the project there are cases where issues need to be revisited during the course of development.

Visualization sessions are another great tool to use when doing business with the customer, integrate this into your project plan and at fixed intervals show the customer how the solution is evolving. This will give them a great understanding of what the end product will look like as well as helping you clarify questions that your team might have.

We have all dealt with changes that crop up right at the end of a project and this becomes a powerful tool to maybe mitigate some of that risk.

Some of the benefits of developing a close working relationship with the customer:

  • Greater project success
  • Increased ownership from the customer
  • A decrease in the potential for misunderstandings.
  • Greater value-adds and possibly better outputs as a result of more people working together.
  • Less effort wasted in last minute changes.