Passive project management: Where does chasing client desires lead your project?

October 27, 2023
4 min
Passive project management

Passive project management: Where does chasing client desires lead your project?

In the intricate world of project management, there’s a recurring story that unfolds when a client requests an unexpected and often unreasonable change in the project. The passive manager, in this scenario, reacts by merely acquiescing to the client’s desires without exploring or communicating the potential consequences of these changes. This type of passive management can lead to a cascade of issues and missed opportunities. Let’s delve into this phenomenon: from Default Value’s extensive 14-year experience in web development, we have a lot to say about it!

Chasing client desires

passive project management

Imagine a scenario where a client approaches a passive project manager with an enthusiastic idea, but it lacks clarity. Instead of actively engaging and initiating a constructive dialogue, the passive manager takes a backseat. They merely nod in agreement and agree to implement the client’s desires as presented without probing deeper into the implications.

The issue with this approach is twofold. Firstly, it ignores the opportunity for the project manager to contribute creative and strategic insights that could significantly benefit the project. Rather than taking the initiative and saying, “Let’s work together to create something exceptional,” the passive manager assumes a backseat role, simply fulfilling the client’s requests.

To illustrate, consider the following examples of passive project management

  • A passive manager who allows the client to make unrealistic demands, which leads to the project going over budget and/or missing deadlines.
  • A passive manager who fails to communicate with the team about changes to the project leads to confusion and frustration.
  • A passive manager who is afraid to say no to the client, even when the client is asking for something that is not in the best interests of the project.

Secondly, the passive manager often fails to explore the underlying motivations when the client presents their idea. What does the client aim to achieve with these changes? For example, if the client wants to create a new store alongside an existing one, the manager might rush into implementation without understanding the fundamental goal. Is the client looking to diversify their business, or is this an expansion into a distinct product line?

In such cases, asking the right questions from a business analysis perspective is imperative. Even when starting from scratch, a more intelligent approach is needed when the client already has ongoing projects. The manager should meticulously analyze the impact of the request on the client’s business and propose cost-effective, efficient alternatives. The passive position, in this context, entails merely chasing the project’s surface desires without considering the broader business implications.

Striking the right balance in project management

balance in project management

In the realm of project management, finding equilibrium is like walking a tightrope, where three critical pillars – time, budget, and quality – need to harmonize. This delicate balance can be challenging, especially when changes and client requests come into play.

Balancing act: Quality, time, and cost are a familiar challenge. If you prioritize quality, it may take longer and be more expensive. If speed is essential, you might compromise on quality, which can increase costs. If you’re on a tight budget, you could face trade-offs in both quality and time.

As a project manager, your role is to maintain this equilibrium. It’s vital to discuss these trade-offs with the client upfront. What matters most to them: time, quality, or cost? Once this is clear, you can navigate the project accordingly.

Consider the benefits of proactive project management:

  • Proactive managers are better able to identify and mitigate potential risks.
  • They are more likely to meet deadlines and stay within budget.
  • Proactive managers are more likely to deliver high-quality results.
  • They are also more likely to have satisfied clients.

How to build transparent communication with a client

Clear communication is key when the project budget evolves or clients introduce changes. You should inform the client that these changes will impact the project’s timeline and budget. This ensures everyone stays on the same page.

It’s not uncommon for misunderstandings to arise, especially if clients don’t provide a complete picture of how their changes affect the project. Regular communication and adjusting budgets and timelines as needed can prevent these surprises.

Project management best practices emphasize the importance of:

Create a communication planDevelop a structured communication plan to provide clients and stakeholders with regular updates. It should be concise and to the point.
Understand the client’s communication styleRecognize that different clients have diverse communication styles, and adapt your approach accordingly.
Be an expertProject managers should be experts in their field. Clients seek expertise, so provide valuable advice, alternative perspectives, and creative solutions.
Take notesMaintain detailed records of all communication. These notes serve as a valuable reference point for discussions and decisions.
Set clear expectationsShare the communication plan with all stakeholders, defining what updates to expect and how frequently. Encourage feedback to improve communication efficiency.
Use a project management platformUtilize a suitable project management platform that aligns with the specific needs of your projects.


In conclusion, effective communication is the cornerstone of successful project management. Project managers spend a significant portion of their time coordinating efforts through communication. By embracing proactive management and building strong communication strategies, projects can thrive, and clients can be satisfied. Remember, the transformation from passive to proactive management is not just about chasing the project but leading it towards success. And we at Default Value are always open to clear communication during your project.

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