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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?

  • I see your having problem with field functions , inputs changes on the fields for a product that creates bottle neck to client , I would check online status of clients , when they are actually using your product , because that's time interval you can engage much more better and collect support tickets – mussdroid Sep 7 at 18:08
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Risk management approaches

As any risk, you might have four ways to address them:

  • Avoid them
  • Reduce them
  • Share/transfer them
  • Accept them

Based on your situation, you invest a considerable amount of efforts on reduce them as much as possible. Thing is, maybe they can't be reduced any further and thus, you need to explore other approaches.

What else to do?

It's pretty challenging to avoid external dependencies, as you don't have control around them. With that in mind, you might consider either transfer or accept them. Long story short, you either pass on the costs of delay to the client (share/transfer) or you take the hit as you're doing (accept).

You might want to explore how you could add clauses to the proposal or statement of work, adding specific comments on by when you expect to have feedback. If these feedbacks are not received on time, there'll be a cost impact. It won't solve the problem but can make the client more willing to offer you availability.

A different problem, maybe?

Reading between the lines, I'd guess your problem could have another root cause: a cultural difference. It's a long shot as there's no comments hinting on this on your post, but worth to highlight that some cultures consider a one day delay unacceptable whereas other may consider a week of delay pretty fine. If you're working on a multi cultural environment, I'd strongly suggest to read The Culture Map from Erin Meyer.

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I have been involved in many projects with similar issues, though in a slightly different environment. Being assertive in your communication from the beginning is one thing, so like in my case I ensured all my client had what I called Project Interface Officer. He/she gets a copy of all communications and attends to them on behalf of my clients.

Secondly, where issues like yours had become a culture, I will suggest using the cost of the project to control time, such as hourly pay and discount to the client when you get a response in time

Finally, this I will suggest as the last resort but sometimes it can save you a lot; always arrange a short meeting with your client (the project owner) ahead of your test in order to sure you get what you want. If you like you may the cost it to them, believe it if it saves the client some time too, the client will definitely agreed.

  • Thanks for your answer. I have been requesting that PIO what it helped a lot, but in some cases they don't have so much authority. It will help to get my back covered, but I want to move them on time. I think the problem is also the FP contract, because it makes them believe that they can extend whatever they want. Every week we review the action items and the schedule, but I find excuses and the project keeps delaying. Remote projects with diff cultures, requires a lot of skills to move the clients on time. In my situation, it is not my team, but the client. – Maximus Decimus Aug 9 at 13:11

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