Supposedly, closing a project should be a “no brainer.” Afterall, deliverables have been already delivered and accepted; the software, hardware, buildings, training, etc. All delivered. Then, why projects are so difficult to close? Here are a few reasons I have seen in real life why projects are difficult, and sometimes impossible to close:
10. Client representative trying to prove value for client: Sometimes consultants who are trying hard to prove to their employers that they are providing value to the client try to identify non existing or irrelevant issues in the contract or the deliverables just to show that they are smart and accordingly gain the trust of the customer.
9. The project is not a top priority for the client any more: Strategies change and top management focus changes, due to changing market conditions, change in management, or any other reason.
8. Multiple client representatives giving conflicting feedback to supplier: When multiple client groups will use the deliverable, then each might see the deliverable from a different perspective and requiring different features.
7. Client expects a perfect deliverable: There is no such thing as a “perfect deliverable.” There are always things to improve, bugs to fix, and additional features to have.
6. No one at the client wants to take on the responsibility of accepting the work. No one at the client organization wants to be blamed if there are problems with the product or service in the future. So, they haggle and throw the responsibility from one department to the other.
5. Client does not have the capacity to operate the delivered product / facilities. Unfortunately sometimes clients order a Jumbo Jet when they have only flown single engine planes, so to speak. So, overwhelmed with the complexity of the delivered product, they stall with acceptance until they figure out how to operate the complex software or operation.
4. Client finds out that the work of the project was not enough to provide them value: In many cases, clients find out too late that upgrading the software, for example, will not be enough unless they upgrade their servers. However, the servers upgrade is not budgeted. So, they try to find a way to have the new software perform as expected even though they know the slow performance is not a software problem.
3. Client personnel who accepted the deliverables are different from those who are supposed to accept the completed project: Many suppliers are surprised at the end of the project that the team who worked with them from the client side all through the project is not the same group that will accept the final deliverable. Then, the supplier is forced to review deliverables completed sometimes as early as years earlier, and make modifications.
2. Client wants more, even if not originally included in scope: This is an old “we – they” attitude where the client tries to get freebies from the supplier who is usually pressured to close the project.
1. Client is worried that once they accept the work, they are “stuck” with what the supplier delivered and they will not get support any more. So, they scrutinize the deliverables and make unreasonable requests for fixing minor superficial glitches.
While all closing delays involves client, however the client cannot be the only one to blame for all of them. To the contrary, some see supplier actions as the main reason for these problems, even though the problems are raised almost always by the client. In next post, I plan to address what suppliers and clients can do to avoid closing problems.