I'm an entry level programmer and am involved in daily client meeting about project progress, issues, deadlines etc.

I have no experience of client management, could you people please suggest any common things to consider when interacting with clients both in a project and people management perspective.


Some points I learnt early on:

  • Get everything in some form of writing (document, email, etc)
  • Understand that your interpretation of what they want/mean is likely wrong. Working with examples can help this.
  • Technical jargon is generally more harmful than saying nothing. Don't lose them; speak plain English.
  • Be prepared:
    • Know what issues were experienced since your last meeting,
    • Know what the current progress is, why you are behind if you are, and any new potential risk to not meeting your deadlines.
  • 1
    Mcgrath : Thanks ,Hope i should vote first for the 3 point! – Naveen Kumar Jan 5 '11 at 8:42
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    +1 This is the best overall answer. All of these points are extremely important. I would only add that the vast majority of clients are not qualified to judge whether a developer is skilled or not. They are looking for the person that they feel is the least amount of risk. So a developer must establish credibility and trust through professional presentation and conduct. This is important for a beginner can understand. – bogeymin Jan 5 '11 at 11:48


  • One of the most important things I find is "Get to Know Your Clients"

You have to know on what level they think, are they technical themselves (or do they have older technical knowledge) Do they think in terms of business processes , user interfaces , program management terms, servers and wires. You have to learn their language.

  • "Never Asume"

Every time you think: "O than it should be like this", verify

  • Use check-lists.

Make sure that you have at least talked about anything you can think of. Not everything has to be obvious at this moment but at least try to get agreement on everything that is included. To help you remember and make things clear to them.

  • At the end of meetings get action point with dates and people responsible

just saying that something needs to be done, will make sure that it doesn't get done in time.

  • Be aware of your own personality and theirs.

Sometimes you have to discuss point differently (not lie) to get your point across. To give you an idea of a simple method look here.

  • great. i would also like to know more about how u can get to know your clients better. Is it OK to be informal at any time? – Ross Jan 5 '11 at 10:56
  • Not at any time and not with any client especially more authoritative people won't appreciate it. When working closely with a customer it can become more informal and that is great, he/she must be able to say anything to you and you must be able to tell him/her the truth at all times without it resulting in an unresolvable argument. – KeesDijk Jan 5 '11 at 11:02

Client is king

But only if you have room for advices and you are treated with respect.


People want to be reasonable and they want to get along, so keep everything as clear as possible and as simple as possible and you'll be alright.

Never try to hide things from a client- the best thing is to keep them up to date including any problems you are running into rather than trying to gloss over those. They would rather know now that there is a chance things will be pushed back a week than find out two days before a deadline.

Ask questions and then ask more questions. You can use questioning a client to make it clear that you are understanding what they want but you can also use it to lead them to conclude for themselves that there is a problem with what they are asking for.

If they don't understand something you are trying to explain, be patient and think of a different way to explain it. If there are technical issues likely to come up that you don't expect them to understand easily, think up some user stories ahead of time or work out some diagrams that will make the problem clear to them.

If you aren't sure that you have understood something, double check with them. Also if you are sure you have understood.

Always end meetings on a positive and forward-looking note, even if you have had a rough time of it right now.

  • 1
    + for last paragraph "Always end meetings on a positive and forward-looking note, even if you have had a rough time of it right now" – Gopi Jan 5 '11 at 11:24

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