It is so obvious who the decision maker(s) in a project. Why we need to talk about it. It is very true for small scale in-house project that you know the stakeholders very well. If you are a vendor working with the procurement department of your customer, they would act as a proxy for most of the time to work with you on behalf of other stakeholders or even the decision makers. And the problem might arise there.
I can quote an experience of myself. That project was a web development project for a government organization. The IT department is the project sponsors and we work very closely with them to scope the project and define the features and function inside the website. The project went smoothly in the first 3 months and the client has signed off all creative and design. I remember that date, it was 12/12, which was a briefing session of the user acceptance test that the tragedy began …
That day, a strange face showed up in the middle of the briefing session. He had a long face and he kept on saying how the design did not fit his requirements for almost 15 minutes. It was a nightmare for me and I was looking at the project manager in their IT department, speechlessly..As expected, we received tens of pages of change requests at the end of the user acceptance test and have to do a lot of re-work. Finally, it took another 5 months to complete the whole project.
Even though we still get paid for the project, it took extra time to re-work and complete and that was my biggest concern. In the review meeting with the IT department, we tried to understand why that decision maker’s comment and feedback was omitted at an earlier stage. They said that he was kept informed throughout the process and he subordinate, who worked with IT department, has never mentioned any of those comments / feedback before the user acceptance test.
The learning from this project is:
- We should identify the decision maker(s) as early as possible when a project starts
- Even though we might not work directly with decision makers at a regular basis, we should get to know them and get introduced to them via personal email to make sure that they have well received all project status and progress update
- When you get the signoff from your customer, it would be better to get the signoff from decision makers directly;