18 November 2006

Planning by milestones

Planning by milestones can run into conflict with value for money for your client if you are charging by the hour. A supplier can ethically charge the time spent with the client in helping them to do something, but that invoicing has to be held up to the project milestone mirror periodically to make sure that the client is getting good value for money from the relationship.

Failure to do that means that you are at risk of not having the contract renewed even if all the time spent with the client was at the client's request and all the invoicing was honest. That means that you can't lose sight of the longer-term objective even if the client does. Your client's attention might not be on the longer term today, but eventually they will look at whether the project has delivered what it was supposed to and ask themselves whether they got good value. That can mean adopting a challenging role with your client and asking them whether they are delivering their side of the project as they initially agreed.

If you focus on project milestones and encourage your client to do the same, there can be little room for error. Both sides agree that the milestones are the elements that are key in delivering the overall project and understand who is responsible for the delivery of each of the milestones. That means that your client is less likely to ask you for support which is at best tangential to the work that you should be doing for him / her and the time you spend on the project is more likely to deliver progress against the milestones.

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