Understanding Your Next-Customer

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Written By: Jennifer Glatz, P.Eng., PMP

April 12, 2019

 

Do you wish the hand-off between project phases went a bit more smoothly? Check out these techniques on how to better understand your next-customer.

During the conceptual or “data-gathering” phase of a project, we spend a lot of time trying to understand our end-customer. We use various techniques such as interviews, surveys, and workshops to gather and document the requirements of the project. This helps us to not only establish the boundaries of our project scope, but also to understand the business case or drivers behind the project and what the end-result should accomplish.

Once we establish our project plan and move into execution, we often get caught up in our own deliverables or work silos and can easily lose sight of our next-customer. Project work involves a hand-off of deliverables to the next person or partner in line in our project workflow. Some examples of hand-offs include the transition from engineering to construction, from construction to commissioning, or development to operations. The amount of time that we invest in understanding the needs of our next-customer can pay dividends by achieving a smooth transition of information so that the next team in line can execute their work efficiently.

So what are some ways that we can improve the delivery of our information to our next-customer?

Step 1: Seek to Understand Their Requirements and Perspective. Make a conscious effort to connect with your next-customer and understand what information they require, when they require it, and in what format. This conversation can also help to eliminate information or tasks that are not required or that do not provide value. 

Step 2: Update Your Project Plan. Revisit your deliverables lists, scope statements, schedule, and project management plan to include the details of your conversation. Use this opportunity to adjust your plan as needed and to explain the “why” to your broader team.

Step 3: Involve Your Next-Customer in the Development. Giving your next-customer an opportunity to be a part of your quality review process of your deliverables will provide another touch point for input. Adjustments can be made prior to final delivery which will prevent rework at a later stage. Chances are your next-customer will have practical ideas on how to make their part of the work more efficient if the ideas can be incorporated into the deliverables at an earlier stage.

Remember, the success of the end-result of our project relies on the efficient delivery of EVERY stage of the project. The more collaborative we can be with our next-customers throughout the project life cycle, the better chance we have of achieving overall project delivery excellence.