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We are programming company. One guy is seeking jobs and talking to clients. Then when the job terms are negotiated, a project gets its own project manager and programmers.

Once a project is started, who should talk to the client about project-specific things? If there is a coding problem, then it's obviously a developer that will have such conversations.

However, should the PM take on all further conversations with the client, or should it be left to person who negotiated the job terms? It seems to me that the PM would be a better choice than the negotiator once the project has started.

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There is nothing wrong with having several people from the project team contacting the client. As you already pointed out, some people are naturally more appropriate. If you developers are interfacing with the client's systems and there is a specific coding problem, then the dev might need to talk to a client dev contact.

Normally, the client will have multiple people who can be contacted. This is where Mark's answers fits. I believe your question is about who on YOUR team should be contacting the client.

Normally, the salesperson (negotiator) will not be involved much after the deal is signed. However, that salesperson might well stay in contact just to check up and the PM might ask the salesperson to get involved in some cases (where terms were unclear in the contract, etc.). However, yes, normally the salesperson should focus on sales. The PM should focus on the project. Everyone should focus on their jobs and if they need to contact the client, they should. HOWEVER, the PM must make sure that contacting the client is ONLY happening in an organized way or you risk flooding the client with the same questions leading to a poor image for your firm and a damaged relationship with your client.

In short, the PM should be deciding who contacts the which person at the client. However, salespeople live based on relationships so do not expect the salesperson to magically disappear after the sale is made.

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    Good catch! I'd made an assumption in my answer, which is kind of ironic. One of the other reasons to do communications planning is to identify assumptions like mine. – Mark C. Wallace Jan 27 '14 at 14:38
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This should be documented in the communications plan. There are almost as many answers to your question as there are combinations of clients and providers, which is why each project should have a communications plan that summarizes who talks to whom about what.

In your shoes, I'd create a template communications plan for the company, and then validate key points with the customer when the contract is signed. Something along the lines of: "Our normal practice is to have a customer POC that we cc on all communications, and then specific POC's for specific issues. Who in your company should be the default POC, and who should we talk to on issues like:

  • User acceptance and Testing

  • Security

  • Infrastructure, support & operations

  • . . . (whatever else).

Update: @Earthling correctly points out that I made it sound like this was only about who in the client communicates; that was not my intent. The point of the communications plan is to identify the necessary communications, and identify who is responsible for those communications. I would imagine that he roles within your company will be relatively consistent from project to project and will be defined in the template. Naturally you'll review those roles before you have the conversation with the customer.

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PM should be single point of communication for status, schedule and scope

As Mark pointed out, this depends on the size and complexity of the project. However, here are some tips from my experience in managing software projects.

For technical issues, it is OK for the tech to talk to the client tech. However, if I were the PM, I will want to listen in on the calls. In my experience, techies are not best equipped to deal with scope creep and enforce change control.

The Sales person will have a vital interest in keeping in the loop, especially if additional opportunities are in the pipeline. For example, if the schedule looks likely to slip, this person can lobby with top management for additional resources. But this person is not equipped to communicate to the client about the status of execution.

So the PM should be the single point of communication for the following:

  • Status updates: Invariably you will be waiting on client for things (e.g., UI design approval) that will affect project schedule.
  • All schedule related communication: When are we delivering what.
  • Scope of work: What work is within scope and what is not. What changes requested by a client will involve extra cost and time.

And the PM should listen in on all other communication with the client about the project.

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Different Organisation follow different process for the active projects so based on that I can just give an answer that projects are always initiated with the Technical Architects and PM and QA Manager. When the active projects are finalised with reviews etc then its proceeded with the developement and if any changes are needed then the concerned Lead will get in touch with the concerned manager and seek the permission if needed, later proceed ahead with the clent! Sometimes clients speak directly to the Developers or QA so such scenarios are also there that they contact directly on active projects ! Hopefully this is well answered if not please let me know !

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Ideally you should have a Business Analyst who should be communicating to clients.. Because Business Analyst has more insights and knowledge about a project since he is activly involved in the project.. And if you need any technical help you can always go back your tech team..

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In a traditional development (ex waterfall), it should be described in the communication plan which is authored by the PM. In scrum, it emphasizes on communication so I think everyone could interface directly IMO.

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