I hear myself saying this quite a lot, “If I had a magic wand and could fix one thing in industry to improve project performance, it would be this. If customers could understand their own requirements better, encapsulate them in the contract better, if suppliers could understand them better and communicate them to the project team better, then the world would be a better place!” In our experience, misalignment between the customer and supplier on the project or contract requirements is the single biggest cause of tension in working relationships and therefore has the biggest impact on project performance.
Not many of us actually have a magic wand. So what can we do? True collaborative engagement is important. At the start of the project (ideally before) and throughout the project, the customer and the supplier must build a way of working that allows them to have open and honest discussions about the nature of the requirement, the customer’s expectations and the supplier’s vision for delivery. The joint team must get themselves aligned and stay aligned throughout. This must also include the respective contract teams. The contract must reflect the understood customer wants and needs. If not, it’s another source of misalignment and needs to be fixed. Many of our SCRIA FrameworkTM interventions result in this type of work – enabling alignment between the customer and supplier teams so that the wants, the needs, the expectations, the solution, the ways of working together and ultimately the contract all end up reflecting the same thing – meeting the requirement.