What do you do when the contract that's just been signed with the client, is no longer in their best interest or yours? Renegotiate the contract. Change the contract. Rewrite the contract to fix the real issue and achieve a better win-win scenario. Right? It seems like an easy enough solution, but why doesn't it happen as often as it should? Why do so many project managers avoid renegotiating contracts?
They don't realize what their real jobs as project managers are.
Project managers are supposed to deliver what clients want, have requested, and need (in the clients' opinions.) Too often though, project managers abide by the old adage, "The customer is not always right, but the customer is always the customer." By doing so, project managers fail to provide their expert guidance and instead allow clients or customers to determine what they believe is in their own best solution. All too often, what the clients believe they need is wrong. The clients don't have expertise in identifying the root causes and appropriate fixes. The project managers do - or should. Yet many project managers prefer to stick their heads in the sand and simply implement the project plans step-by-step according to the predefined plans, budgets, and schedules. Success! Wrong.
Clients expect project managers to be their guides.
Clients expect project managers to be their partners in developing their solutions. Clients expect project managers to be the experts in identifying better ways to reach their objectives. Clients expect project managers to be professional, upfront, honest, and communicative. Clients expect project managers to foresee needed changes, identify effective fixes, and provide cleaner paths to solutions. Clients don't want to be blind-sided by issues that were known weeks if not months before by the project managers. Clients don't want their project managers to simply plug away at punch lists with no real thought about what they're doing or how to do it better. Clients don't want machines; they want partners.
Project partners work for mutual gain and don't hide from that fact.
The most effective project managers understand their roles as project managers is to be partners, consultants, and guides. As such, they provide the needed expertise in helping their clients to understand the rationale for better ways to address the contracted issues. They don't run from changes or the opportunities to renegotiate contracts. They look forward to them because a better solution will result - for everyone. Effective project managers have no fear in communicating clearly about needed changes or about their need to bill for services. If changes are needed, there's a reason and the project managers are the guides to explain why. Project managers don't need to run from the explanations, project managers just simply need to explain: Why the changes are in the clients' best interests and why the changes may result in additional fees. There's nothing to hide if the project managers have been doing what is expected. There's nothing to hide if the project managers do their real jobs instead of just doing what the contracts say.
Copyright MMXIV Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.