Sunday, May 21, 2006

      Listening to Your Clients

This article talks about the importance of sales people listening to their clients, so that they can value-add by playing a consultative role to their clients' issues.

I say that this is does not only applies to sales people, but also to IT people as well. Being in software project management, I was very surprise when some project managers say that they don't want to face clients. How can we understand what clients want when you don't interact with them? And if you don't understand what the client's want, then how do you satisify their needs?

I believe in the importance of understanding clients' needs. Understanding requirements does not only mean writing down the requirements as spoken by clients. It also means reading between their lines and understanding the underlying business objectives that they are trying to achieve. So very often, I see clients mandating certain ways of implementation, thinking that its the cheapest/best way to get things done; not understanding the potential repercussion in the longer term. That's when PMs must also put on their consultant caps and advise their clients.

I am not saying this is easy. In fact, this is a great challenge and takes strong communication skills. It takes patience and time. Next complain I often hear is this: we have no time, we must get this system up and running fast! It's an oxymoron; How can you get a running system when you don't even have time to communicate what the system is suppose to achieve? It takes moral courage and good communication skills again to make clients understand that by slowing down first to think and communicate, we are in fact speeding things up.

Research shows that 50% of software rework comes for wrong requirements. Things that can be corrected early in the SDLC, with good requirements gathering and management. I hope more PMs see what I saying here; or I really have to pity the development teams struggling with unneccessary pressures caused by poor listening skills.


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