Client wrangling: How to deliver successful Drupal projects

By Team Srijan Jul 8, 2015

You know a keynote is well received when the audience is in splits and breaking into applause every now and then. That, in short, describes Jacob Singh’s keynote at Drupal Camp Delhi 2013. Jacob is the Regional Director, Acquia India. While Jacob kept the mood light, he made some powerful points about Drupal and its acceptance across the world.


Successful, profitable projects are hard to achieve, but once you start Client Wrangling, it’s quite easy. The main issue which remains with a business is to extract information from the client to build the basic architecture. So Client Wrangling is the first step to understand client needs and their expectations. Srijan, invited Susan Rust, Drupal Business Consultant at Drupal Anywhere, to lead a Srijan Wednesday Webinar. On the webinar, she emphasized the need to build processes to help Drupal shops scale their services, while running profitably. You can catch the recording of the webinar here. 

According to Susan there are there are five main issues which come under Client Wrangling. 

Close the Gap: The first step is to manage the client expectations, and usually coders and developers do not understand this gap. This gap is more of a communication gap than a technology one, and it can keep increasing if false expectations are set. Coders and developers communicate in Drupal but the client does not understand Drupal. They only know business. A company can end up losing a lot of money due to this gap. So training plays a vital role here.

Reduce Risks: It’s important to define the goals beforehand, and how your team is going to deliver the project. You have to give the best description of the project to the client. If a client is not listening to your advice, it can be risky for both the client and you. There have been times when a clients start dictating what modules they want and that creates a lot of problems. They should instead just tell you their business needs. You should know their business model and how it will be converted to Drupal. There have been instances when the client just changes the framework of the final product! That’s why it’s so important to manage risks. It will help you to save a lot of time and money in the end.

Build Trust: You can only develop trust with the client if your team understands the client business and requirements. Give your team the responsibility and authority to make the decisions. With the right process, everything falls in place. The project manager’s role is very important here. Most of the times they are doing a lot of projects and fail to deliver and build trust because they are usually involved in micro managing. Clients trust velocity, not chaos. Velocity can only be delivered by the right team that’s clear about their goals. A right team is the one where everyone has a say and anyone can raise concerns and issues anytime.

Communicate with Customers: Both the client and you have different expectations, and communicating about Drupal is a complex task. So sometimes you need to be direct with clients. You have to understand which clients you need to say No to, and whose unrealistic expectations you need to lower down. If you use the correct terminology to communicate, you will save a lot of money.

Create Processes: Developing the right processes is extremely critical. Generating tickets is a major step in this process. This is usually done through a ticketing tool. Let’s say a developer develops a view in the ticket which is then passed to project manager who further gives it to the Themer and finally gets tested by the QA person. After all this, in the end, if the client finds some fault, it again goes back into the process. Hence, a correct and transparent process is important to be followed from the beginning. Else the project loses money.

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