A project will not be realized without the customers because projects are done for customers.
Meeting customer needs as per scope is the primary objective of project planning. Therefore, customers also play a very critical role in planning the project. A customer takes charge for communicating project needs and making sure that requirements have been met at project completion. Customers should take part in project planning at all stages right from kick-off-meeting to closure.
During customer discussions, the customer should also be responsible in defining his needs. Customer may express the needs in terms of goals to be achieved rather than the specific requirement itself. He can ask questions and clarify requirements to ensure that complete scope of project is addressed and intended benefits of the project can be achieved.
Customer needs to actively participate in planning and also monitoring the progress of the project whether needs are being catered. Its important that customer is part of project review meetings
Generally, customers play the following responsibilities during project planning
- Review and approve project plan – As mentioned, the project is for the needs of the customers. The customer must evaluate the proposal. He may revise or add something to improve the project. He may also give suggestions and constructive criticisms to assure project quality.
- Attend project requirement reviews – Communication is an essential factor to create a relationship between the customer and the project managers and all stakeholders. Project planning requires discussions to ensure that requirements are met. In this case, the customer must always be present during that critical meeting so that he can give suggestions feedback.
- Finalization of scope and acceptance criteria – In project planning, everything must be documented especially scope and acceptance criteria between customer and project manager. Providing written agreement is already the responsibility of the customer. He needs to enumerate the criteria he is looking for in implementation of the project. Once the criteria have been set, this would be written as an agreement. This would then be the bases of the project manager in creating a project plan,
- Provide input in deployment planning – Once the plan had been approved the customer’s role does not just stop there. Customer still needs to give suggestions and input while the plan is being executed. Along the way of the project plan, the customer might discover potential risks which need to be addressed. Regular reviews of the project is must for achieving the goals of the project.
All of these roles of the above customers are very essential for the success of the project. The saying customer is always right would be a wrong idea when the customer is not clear about the goals and requirements. Therefore, for the customers to be right all the time, he must also be aware of his responsibilities especially during project planning.