Have you heard from your colleagues that their client has unrealistic expectations? Have you also heard that the client should be treated like “God” or that the client knows what they want?
I have heard these things and more at various points in my career and have always been puzzled about how clients are regarded in the IT industry. The fact of the matter is that clients pay for the services and want to get the best out of their investment period.
It is only human to expect the best for the investment that one puts in. Whether it is the time you spend at a conference or time you spend with your family, you always tend to expect more. There are only a few people expect realistically out of life. It has nothing to do whether they are clients or not.
An IT services firm should focus more on setting the right focus and expectations instead of saying that the client is unrealistic. If the client sees that the IT company takes ownership, they will automatically re-align their expectations. It is essential to remember that only work output determines the ownership on a project.
The days are gone where IT vendors are expected to be order takers. Clients expect you to be navigators helping them navigate in the right direction. Clients expect vendors to understand their business and provide solutions for their business problems. Understanding their business, providing the right strategy and then helping them in implementing the right solution is what is expected by clients.
Whether the client is realistic or not, it is always a gain for the IT services company who is the vendor in play. When dealing with realistic clients, everybody is happy from the get go. You are clear about goals and everybody are happy through the delivery process. When you deal with unrealistic expectations an IT services company learns tremendously. To meet these unrealistic needs you think through ways of optimizing every aspect of delivery. Be it ensuring the right resource mix is put in place or rethinking the strategy of “Buy Vs Build” or just questioning the whole stack of solutions/frameworks that are available in the market that do not allow you to deliver a quality solution with the client’s unrealistic expectations.
The right mix of resources ensures impeccable delivery. On the long run it also ensures you are investing rightly into the organization’s core strength, which is the people.
In my experience putting the organization in a difficult situation often opens doors to think differently. This thought process is often a great learning experience for the organization. When you question the existing limitations of the tools/frameworks, you innovate. In any which ways the IT organization stands to gain. So for providing this opportunity, I appreciate my client.
I do recognize that clients know their business very well, but they might not know how to visualize a system that can solve their business problem. They need innovative ideas and access to right technology partners to get the best for every penny they spend.
To conclude, the client might have unrealistic expectations at times but that enables innovation. Understand that the client is as human as we all are. They just expect to receive the best for what they invest. The client knows their business inside out, but does not necessarily realize what best can be done to gain long term benefits. What they really need are “Navigators” who guide them in the “Right Direction”.
Ashok Datla is the Client Principal at Compassites.He has 14 years of experience playing various roles in an IT delivery organization. In his role as Client Principal, he leads the software solution services pursuit, develops software solutions strategies and oversees delivery of complex engagements.Prior to joining Compassites, he has played various roles in technology and leadership front globally. He had lived in the Bay Area (California) for over 11 years working with Pacific Stock Exchange, Wells Fargo and Stanford Graduate School of Business. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Karnataka University, India