There are many variables to measure when dealing with clients, but to me these are the most important variables that I dealt with:
Clients that are internal or external: If internal, it should depend from the organization structure, power, influence and authority.
Clients that are being manage remotely
Clients that are from other cultures (time and motivation): Those countries where time management is polychronic and not monochronic
Perception of displacement of people when automation arrives: Mainly reluctance to change
Many of these cases were included in my risk management plan. I set up many strategies to reduce negative risks. However I found many troubles when dealing with "external, polychronic, reluctant-to-change" clients.
I tend to talk to them before to adjust my schedule, send status reports to my close involved stakeholders. In some cases where things didn't work out, I requested to appoint a project coordinator from client's side. Things go well, but at some point that person has no control over end-users. Tests, feedback, answers to documents get late.
In order to have a balance upon this situation, I have some contingency reserve.
Sometimes I escalate these issues to a higher authority what makes things work "faster", but not better, because it creates a toxic environment. My team and I are performing mostly on time, but client cannot follow our rhythm. There are many excuses on every weekly remote web conference.
It is ridiculous how many months it takes the client to test some things. They think that we have all time of the world. In some cases, my boss tells me not increase the cost or produce a change order, because it could be so aggressive. He says not to push them, but to keep communication and producing my weekly reports.
Why is this a problem? I keep getting new projects and having few projects like in stand-by, makes me forget things about processes and I need to review again all my planning and project documents (flowcharts, designs, issue logs, meeting records, etc.)
I realized that when a project is in-house and have the end-users, stakeholders and coordinator on the same office, and people were well communicated about the vision of the project, they tend to work on my track. This happens in some cultures where people need to be watched and tracked. Even in these cases, I can have a slight delay, but recoverable time that allow me to close the project.
How would you manage delays from external clients according to previous scenario? How to help engage better these kind of customers and how to accelerate the project?