DSA would like to thank Jim Robinson of Partners in Change, Inc. for contributing this month's tip on how to identify the true client for your project.
Have you ever been frustrated by a project that is moving too slowly? Perhaps the project is bogged down for some reason, but you are uncertain what that reason may be. When this type of situation occurs, it is important to ask two questions:
“Who is the ‘true’ client for this project?”
“Do I have direct access to this individual?”
The true client is someone who can make things happen. It is a person, or team, who have much to gain or lose from the success or failure of the project. More specifically, the client is the business manager whose business results will be impacted by how well the project meets its objectives. If you are developing E-learning for customer service representatives (CSRs) in a call center, your project should not only impact the CSRs’ performance, but also the satisfaction ratings of those who call into the center. Business managers have a lot to gain from high customer satisfaction ratings. They have a lot to lose when ratings by customers are low.
So who are the true clients for a learning and performance project? They are business managers who:
Many times the person who is the contact for the project does not meet these criteria. That person many times is a project manager who has responsibility for the success of the project but not for achieving business results. Many times the project manager does not have the power or authority to obtain the resources required for reaching a positive impact upon business results. While I have used business terminology to describe the characteristics of the true client, the same criteria pertain to true clients in government and non-profit organizations. The term business results may change to organization or agency results, but the need to identify the true client remains the same.
How do you know if you are working with the true client? Look for signs about who are the decision makers in the business unit. Who is at the table when business goals are being set for the business unit? Who are the leaders of the employees who will gain skill and knowledge from the learning that you are developing? Who has the power to change the employees’ work environment, when it is required? These leaders are the true clients.
How do you get on the radar screen of the true clients? Use your project manager as an ally. Have a candid discussion about what is required for this project to achieve sustained improvement in employee performance and business results. Discuss which business leaders must be engaged if these results are to be achieved. Then you and the project manager can agree on how to gain face time with the true clients and engage those leaders in the decisions and activities required for positive impact upon their business results.
When working on a learning and performance project, always ask, “Who is the true client?” and “How do I gain access to that individual for decision-making purposes?”
See you next time,