How Client Perception and Sense of Ownership Affect Project Management

by Jill Foster on February 18, 2009

Guest post by Sharon Dexter, who suggests: “Never close your mind to the possibilities.” Whether through project management or technical consulting, Sharon has managed Internet development projects in e-commerce, member management, SEO, and CRM. As a judge for the past several years for the Web Marketing Association Web Awards, Sharon loves everything related to the Web, referring to herself as a ‘geek’ at heart. She can be reached at www.linkedin.com/in/sharondexter.

Editor’s note:
I recently had the pleasure of an e-conversation with Sharon via LinkedIn where she kindly answered questions for Women Grow Business.

Excerpts follow from that discussion.

What makes an effective project manager in general?

Communication, ownership, and details.

A successful project manager has to communicate in various levels with the clients, programmers, designers, etc. The communication has to be in email as well as voice.

Regardless what everyone says, the personal communication (via phone or in person), makes a difference.

On ownership – a successful project manager has to “own” the project. This is their project as well as the client’s and they have to embrace every aspect of it. And on details, details, details – [they're] so very important and being detail oriented means that small items which can amount to larger items are not overlooked.

The most important aspect of a successful project manager is ensuring that they are communicating effectively with the client, relaying this information effectively to the programmers and designers —- and presenting the final product effectively.

In your experience, how has failure impacted your success?

Regarding failure with projects or clients, this has impacted my view on taking the final stand to starting my own business. The economy is scary, so while I am starting my own business I am still working full time for a company. Taking that last and final step that says I don’t have the steady pay check is a big step.

I’ve been involved with projects and clients that have signed a contract, we have gone through the creative brief and project specification stages with everything agreed upon and signed off. Once design comps were presented, the client wasn’t happy and ended up cancelling the project.

Why? The creative brief included the clients specifications and overview of what they were looking for so what went wrong?


I think this is the biggest struggle whether it is design or web development related. Clients do have a perspective or “idea” of how they want their site to look and/or function.

Getting this [perception] translated from the client to a usable document is the toughest part of project planning but can be overcome by communication.

3 ways to approach your client’s contract & expectations:

  • Meeting and reviewing various sites and/or ideas/concepts;
  • Putting a little more effort into some areas to actually show that concepts work well;
  • Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile in some instances; it is far more¬†worth it than having a canceled contract.

What adjustments (if any…) to your team’s business plan have been useful for your business in this current economy?

-Thinking smarter.

There are so many alternatives available via social mediums. As a whole we all need to think smarter about the message that we post on our site, materials that are available, and actions that we take to our customers.

How has your approach to client relationships changed (if they have…) in this economic climate?


It has become more personable.

I believe email has ruled our lives for so long that we all started taking the easy way out and communicated via email with our clients. Now, you need the personal touch.

Clients have too many alternatives now and they are looking for the cheapest solution in most cases due to the economy. You have to have that personal touch and relationship with your clients in order to stay above the competition.

(image by Akumaprime)

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