Do you like the smell of freshlycut grass? I do. To me, there’s something fantastic about the smell of gasoline, cut grass, and piles of steamy mulch. It brings back teenage memories of mowing acre after acre of neighborhood lawns, mulching shrubs, and sweating for a few bucks. Of course, I’d invest my lawn-mowing monies into safe ventures such as firecrackers, baseball cards, and matinees.
One lady, we’ll call her Ms. Rite, insisted on following me around her yard as I mowed. She complained about the height of the mower, the way I bagged the grass, and the way I tied my sneakers. In addition to mowing the lawn, this princess also hired me to pull the weeds, rake the leaves, trim the shrubs, clean out the gutters, and tons more—depending on the weather and when her coven was meeting.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to do all those chores—it was the constant comments and the addition of activities as I completed what was agreed upon. For Ms. Rite, cleaning the gutters could easily have stretched into installing new shingles. Planting a small tree could have stretched into installing an in-ground pool. To her, a deal wasn’t a deal unless she got her 20 dollars worth. I dreaded every project I did for her because I knew that she’d change the activity as soon as “we” got started. Oh the joys.
The one thing I learned from this demanding customer was that you must have clearly defined requirements for acceptance before you begin. If only I had learned this lesson when I was 14, I could have bought a few packs more of baseball cards. When Ms. Rite hired me to pull weeds, I could have stressed that the job meant the weeds that were visible around her yard—not the ones that might be in the crawlspace or that might pop up overnight.
If I had known then what I know now, I would have defined the scope.
Joseph Phillips is the author of five books on project management and is a, PMI Project Management Professional, a CompTIA certified Project Professional, and a Certified Technical Trainer. For more information about Project Management Training, please visit Project Seminars.