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I've often seen it recommended to include a "single point of contact" clause in the contract. This stipulates that all communication between a client company and your own company must be made between a single representative on each end. This greatly helps prevent miscommunication.

My question is this: how do you deal with that when working with a project management tool like Basecamp? Do you only add your point of contact to the project? What if he wants to show the work to other members in the company?

UPDATE: This is the recommended single point of contact clause provided in the Graphic Artist's Guild handbook:

The Studio will make every good faith effort to test all deliverables thoroughly and make all necessary corrections as a result of such testing prior to handing over the deliverables to the Client. Upon receipt of the deliverables, the Client shall either accept the deliverable and make the milestone payment set forth herein or provide the Studio with written notice of any corrections to be made and a suggested date for completion which should be mutually acceptable to both the Studio and the Client. The Studio shall designate __________ and the Client shall designate _________ as the only designated persons who will send and accept all deliverables and receive and make all communications between the Studio and the Client. Neither party shall have any obligation to consider for approval or respond to materials submitted other than through the designated persons listed above. Each party has the right to change its designated person upon ____ day(s) notice to the other.

I'm just wondering how this is even relevant if you're communicating with many different people throughout the course of the project?

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2 Answers 2

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It is highly unlikely that your "single point of contact" (SPC) is the only stakeholder [person with an interest in the outcome your project]. Although contracts will identify a SPC such as a contracting officer or contracting officer's technical representative, this responsibility is a contractual requirement to ensure that contracts are not modified by just anyone with an interest.

However as the project manager, you must be alert to all parties who have a positive or negative interest in your project. Stakeholders have varying degrees of significance.

  • Critical stakeholders are those persons that can start (and stop) your project; their names appear on the project charter and contract.
  • Involved stakeholders are users of the deliverables, or functional offices like HR and finance, and procurement, and of course your project team members. "Involved stakeholders" can't start or end your project but they can thwart your progress and scuttle the deliverables if you don't address their concerns.
  • Casual stakeholders have a passing or occasional involvement; auditors, other project managers and their teams, and other program offices can be examples of casual stakeholders. Quality assurance staff may be either involved or casual stakeholders, depending on the CMMI or ITIL maturity of your organization. So your stakeholder analysis should be flexible as circumstances change.

You will need to address all these stakeholders from time-to-time based on the inputs and outputs of each work package in your work breakdown structure. So you will need to clarify the role of the SPC so that your ability to address each stakeholder is not impaired. If your SPC declares that stakeholder relations is their responsibility, then they are taking over the vast majority of your duties as a PM, putting you into the role of project scheduler. If the SPC knows what they are doing, and you aren't so sure, perhaps that is for the best. Usually this is not the case, and the project could be in jeopardy because the SPC does not take the necessary time to attend to the stakeholders.

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Very good and thorough answer! I took the liberty of slightly restructure the proposed stakeholders to make your answer even more clear. Hope it helps! –  Tiago Cardoso Jun 15 at 13:55
    
I am not a lawyer and the following should not be construed as legal advice. The parties to a contract have responsibilities to one another under the principles of privity en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privity_of_contract and consideration en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consideration. Unfortunate things happen when the parties allow non-parties to change terms of the contract, increase scope, and incur costs and delays. See legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Contract+Construction. –  Walt Houser Jun 16 at 13:18
    
Thanks Tiago for the compliment. –  Walt Houser Jun 17 at 17:43

In my professional experience, the single point of contact is a gatekeeper or clearinghouse, rather than a sole resource. This person functions as a spokesmodel for the contract, but may certainly delegate responsibilities or facilitate communications between parties as needed.

This point of contact is the first call you should make with questions, and should be the escalation path for any issues in execution, planning, or delivery. However, as a matter of practice, that person is rarely the only person you will deal with during the project lifecycle.

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Thanks CodeGnome! I've posted an update to my question. What are your thoughts? –  Pete Jun 13 at 19:09

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