The title might make no sense, but it comes from a conversation that went on in the office today.  There seemed to be three things that are heard from customers on a regular basis that can be paraphrased like this:

I don’t want a proposal, I just want you to tell me what you’re going to do and how much it will cost.

Yes, thats what the proposal does.  It tells you what we’re going to do, in the process defining the boundaries of the work (what is in and out of scope) and the price (broken down into hardware, software and labor components).

I don’t want a design, just stick it in and configure it up.

Okay, but if it doesn’t work you promise not to get upset?

I don’t want a project manager, just get someone to let me know how things are going each day.

So of the five engineers doing the work, which one do you want to down tools every day, talk to the other engineers, and then report the progress to you?  That engineer might fall a bit behind, especially if you send him back with follow up questions, but thats okay right?  He might need to take a little more time each week to keep the project plan updated and circulate and follow up on minutes from meetings.  Oh you don’t want a project plan or meeting minutes?  No problem, we’ll just cover each decision point over and over at every meeting, and rehash the entire task list and dependencies as well.  I could go on and on about this one…

Often customers want these things and only realise it when things go wrong.  Then again, sometimes a project can go completely off the rails and they still don’t realise what they want.

About the Author

Paul Cunningham

Paul is a former Microsoft MVP for Office Apps and Services. He works as a consultant, writer, and trainer specializing in Office 365 and Exchange Server. Paul no longer writes for


  1. Aaron

    Ah, the good old days, nothing changes eh?

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