I love systems, they make things so much easier for me. I can track everything and keep email out of my inbox. A well used PM system is awesome.
Most clients don’t like them at all but we (and I used to) force them into using it. We tell them we won’t respond to emails or calls and everything needs to be in the PM system.
There are practical reasons for this. For example on larger teams you can get up to speed on an older project by looking through the PM entries on the project. You have a record of what happened and can reference old commitments. Having lots of project data in your system means you can slice and dice it and learn more about how projects operate in your business.
All great reasons.
How does your client communicate
2 weeks ago I was on Skype with my client in IM and voice a few times a day. This week I’m in IRC all day chatting back and forth with my client about milestones and revisions to UI.
Next week I may be dealing mainly with email from clients.
Each client communicates best in different fashions and I do my best to let them use that method to communicate with me.
Our job is to make things easy on our clients so they can communicate effectively and we can produce work that meets their business objectives. Pushing every client into your PM system is unlikely to do that.
Do I take those calls, emails, chats and push them in to a PM system that the client can see? Yes.
Can the client revise the notes I take with what they thought we talked about? Yes.
That makes my PM system the ‘main base’ for reference but allows clients to communicate in the most effective way for them.
An effective process is something we should be striving for and working to apply to the next project, but we shouldn’t be just shoe horning each client into something that we love.
We should be providing our clients with the most effective communication solution for their project.