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Saturday, February 20, 2010

The three-focus syndrome and the localization customer

The three-focus syndrome is one of the biggest traps that we see being laid for localization project managers in recent times. Understanding it can be the difference between a successful project and failure.

First, the customer asks about price, and is looking for the most "competitive" price that they can find.

Second, they are interested in knowing how fast can their localization project be turned around. They want (and expect) super fast deliveries while seemingly ignoring any complexities or technical challenges that their work may involve.

Third, and this is the crunch, when the work is pushed through on a crash schedule and at super low prices, they inspect in minute detail checking the quality of deliverable.

As a project manager, how do we deal with this three focus situation?

Lets be clear that the "three focus" syndrome does not apply to all customers and certainly "savvy" customers don't have this approach. They understand the correlation between cost, time frame, and quality of the result.

The explanation of this can only be attempted in broad terms because it tends to vary quite a lot. I have found that in about 50% of instances of the above mentioned situation, the customers will see reason and adjust some aspect of the project that will allow the PM to retain control of the quality. I have found that the following is true in all situations:

1. Cheap price + crash schedule = poor quality and unacceptable results.

2. Cheap price + reasonable time frame = generally acceptable results

3. Fair price + reasonable time frame = high quality

Certainly in 3 above, customers are justified in having quite high expectations on their LSP and the Project Manager to deliver the expected quality and there would be no excuses for any drop in performance that would be acceptable. In 1 and 2 above, it is something of a gamble and the principle of "you get what you pay for" most certainly does apply.

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