Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: Micro-Managing Clients

  1. #1
    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2002
    Location
    In the bike lane
    Posts
    1,827

    Micro-Managing Clients

    This is a VENT

    As you may know I am a planning conslutant I work with many clients for communtiies large and small. May of my projects are standard boiler plate projects as they must follow state guidelines and requirements. As a result it is easy to copy and paste and change the names to protect the inoccent.

    Right now I'm doing one of those standard projects. I've done probably 30 of these projects and my current client is a royal PAIN IN THE A micromanageing the entire project, questioning all my data, statistics and sources.

    The following are excerpts from a recent memo I got from him

    s. Bottom of page 22. I would delete the entire last PP on this page and all the pp’s on page 23. Race and income not meaningful to recreation planning.
    t. Page 24. Is the information on Housing and Tenure relevant to Recreation Plan. I would suggest dropping

    It is required stupid

    Page 40 - Suggest that you reorganize this section
    i. I would suggest you insert the 1st pp and chart from page 42 to start the Survey Summary section.
    ii. Than follow with your 1st pp that begins with “ XXXX TOwnship property…………
    iii. Than insert the Recreation Issue chart
    iv. Followed this chart by your conclusion statements “The following opportunities all…………”
    v. Followed by “A number of other issues……………..”
    vi. Followed by the pp on page 41 “ The survey asked……….. Note this pp needs to be rewritten
    vii. Followed by the chart are you willing to pay additional taxes?
    viii. The last pp on page 41 does not seem to fit in this section. “The Township maintains few……………..”
    Suggest we remove it.

    UM this format was fine for my last 29 clients


    m. Recreation Areas and Trails Map – We need to be sure we have the latest snowmobile trails shown on this map. If we do not have, lets make a statement on the maps that there are pending updates on snowmobile trails.
    Don't you think I checked my facts dummy

    A note to all you public planners if you hire a consultant to help you out on a project please don't micro manage.

    UGG I need some

  2. #2
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 1996
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    7,539
    Don't work in my community then......because you will get plenty of suggested revisions from staff and Board/Committee members (primarily the board members, since we, as staff, have frequent dialogue with the consultant).

    Our recent Master Plan update had 19 Steering Committee meetings, the bulk of which toward the end were going page by page through the plan chapters.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  3. #3
    maudit anglais
    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Odd-a-wah
    Posts
    6,586
    Quote Originally posted by NHPlanner
    Don't work in my community then......because you will get plenty of suggested revisions from staff
    Ditto here. I don't know anything about the project you're working on, but I would assume the client has the right to make any changes they deem needed.

  4. #4
    I once told a planner from a highly touted national business that his draft of our comprhensive plan was a piece of ca-ca (not my exact language, mind you). Our relationship went downhill from there. Sadly, the plan was adopted and we've been stuck dealing with it ever since, and probably will be for the foreseeable future.

    PbD, some planners are control freaks, you know?
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  5. #5
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    3,141
    Uh Oh....I am sure Wanigas will think of me when he reads your post

    Having said that, I don't think I was *that* bad as what you posted. I never told them how to write it. I did offer suggestions on how the recommendations were laid out to make it easier to follow. Every community is different on how they needs things laid out. My PC and C2 need it spelled out quite clearly, and not left to make their own interpretations.

    On one hand I think that we pay you guys to do your job, so we should let you do it. On the other hand, we are the ones that will have to use this document probably every day, so we need to make sure we can use what we have.

    The consultant doing our zoning ordinance (NOT Wanigas!, who did an awesome job) has been nothing but a pain in the butt. Up front we sat down and talked about what we wanted to see. Then the stuff they give us if filled with errors, misspellings, duplicate information (like they pulled it from 3 different ordinances and didn't bother to review it). I am sure they hate me.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    South Milwaukee
    Posts
    8,935
    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    On one hand I think that we pay you guys to do your job, so we should let you do it. On the other hand, we are the ones that will have to use this document probably every day, so we need to make sure we can use what we have.
    Having been on both sides:

    As a public sector Planning Director, yes I am giving you revisions. And I better not hear you complain about it or next time to work goes elsewhere.

    As a private sector coonsultant, yes I'll make your revisions and I wont complain about it or next time to work might go elsewhere.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Gale Crater
    Posts
    2,842
    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    Having said that, I don't think I was *that* bad as what you posted.
    What PBD posted sounds par for the course. I've seen worse in my office. In fact, we just got the smackdown from a community's legal department in regard to some small revisions we did to their zoning ordinance. Nothing hurts more than reading comments from a law firm. The lawyers were right on about 90% of their comments, however, they have commented on sections that we did not update. I won't mention the consultant's name this community hired over 5 years ago to completely re-write their ZO. Luckily it wasn't my company! There are also other political issues going on in this community, of which the client contact is caught in the crosshairs of the planning commission and a town board with a mind of its own. We're going to call the client tomorrow and ask them what we can do to make things right. We're going to lose money on the project. As a consultant, you must check your pride every day at the door.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,893
    There is a delicate balance in the relationship between a consultant and a client. The consultant needs the client to provide information and local insight that they cannot acquire in the time it takes to do a project. The client needs to respect the expertise the consultant brings to the table. I have been fortunate to usually work as a team with the consultants my employers have hired. Where I do not, though, I often end up making substantial edits to their work.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  9. #9
         
    Registered
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Here
    Posts
    3,519
    Quote Originally posted by NHPlanner
    Don't work in my community then......because you will get plenty of suggested revisions from staff and Board/Committee members (primarily the board members, since we, as staff, have frequent dialogue with the consultant).

    Our recent Master Plan update had 19 Steering Committee meetings, the bulk of which toward the end were going page by page through the plan chapters.
    Ditto, our community opted not to hire a consultant to do our most recent Comp Plan or a few of our other more recent plans because we didnt want them "cut and pasted" from another communities plan. Any plans that get done here, in or out of house, have committees and Staff that go through them with a fine tooth comb...and forget the committees and Staff, the council also reviews them in depth.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian munibulldog's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Where 8 Mile hits Lake M1
    Posts
    278
    Yikes, that sounds like normal everyday "write a plan by committee", Planner by Day. Better get used to it. I'd be happy to have someone interested enough to provide written comments, even if they were not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

    My most common experience with trying to write plans is to ask general questions regarding problems with the ZO, land use problems in neighborhoods, how can neighborhoods be improved, etc, and then get nothing but deafening silence. But when we get down to writing the final draft of the plan, the focus is on dotting the t's and crossing the i's. The committee goes over the plan sentence by sentence. But if I was able to give them a solid draft to work from, it usually turns out to be a good plan.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Dennis, MA
    Posts
    197
    Sorry to sound like we are piling on, but having always been on the local official side either as a local planner of board member the comments do not seem off-base. Sometimes we do not know what is required by statute like the specialist and need to be reminded. Sometimes it is just our local preference on what we feel should be emphasised - thus moving some items around in format. When I do an open space and recreation plan it needs to be tailored to the needs of the Planning Board, Conservation Commission, Recreation and Beach Committee, Finance Committe and Board of Selectmen. Try balancing that one without re-writes. The Recreation folks want to acquire and want to see that emphasised, the Finance Committee wants fiscal responsibility, clearly a beast with two heads.

    I expect to be questioned by all of the committees involved in reviewing any of my work and to get challenged on many parts of it. It does not look like the client challenged any of your facts, so that means you did good work, they just want it presented their way.

    Unfortunately we cannot always know what the snowmobilers/bicyclists/hikers/local busy-body feels is a trail, thus most of these type of plans are always subject to revision. That is the whole idea of a required update (5 years here for open space plans).
    Planning is much like acting, as my old theater professor used to say, "If you sin, sin boldly, only you know if you are ad libbing." I follow this adage almost daily.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    South Milwaukee
    Posts
    8,935
    Quote Originally posted by PlannerByDay
    ...As you may know I am a planning conslutant...
    I have to wonder if the typo was intentionial...

  13. #13

    Registered
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    1,548
    Quote Originally posted by PlannerByDay
    A note to all you public planners if you hire a consultant to help you out on a project please don't micro manage.
    I'm a consultant too, and way too often I've experienced just the opposite -- absolutely no direction, judgement or leadership at all from incompetent staff.

    Take last night. I'm working on a master plan project for a public housing development; a big-city public housing authority is our client. We held a community meeting last night to present our findings from a needs assessment we did for the housing development and the immediate surrounding area.

    Public housing residents in this city are quite nervous about their prospects for staying in the development -- many other developments have been torn down and replaced with "mixed-income communities" that dramatically reduce the overall number of public housing units. They often feel the fix is in, the plan's been made, without their input. We took great pains in our presentation to say that resident input was not only valued, but essential to the planning process. All was going pretty well.

    THEN...

    Next on the agenda was the public housing authority's relocation expert. She said, "after they're (meaning the consultants) are done with what they're doing, and relocation starts, that's where I come in." We made no mention of relocation, but because of this person's comments we lost all credibility as soon as this "expert" hit the floor. Suddenly questions start flowing about how residents can bail because they now know that the fix is in.

    We called the agency's management this morning and basically told them they screwed themselves and screwed us in the process by talking out of both sides of their mouths. Their response -- "what was so wrong about that?"

    AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!! I'd rather have a client that knows what they want, even if it's wrong, than someone who doesn't have a clue.

  14. #14

    Registered
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    1,548
    Quote Originally posted by pete-rock
    I'm a consultant too, and way too often I've experienced just the opposite -- absolutely no direction, judgement or leadership at all from incompetent staff.
    Sorry if anyone was offended by my rant on incompetency. I know that the majority of planners here are public planners, and I hope no one thinks I'm making a sweeping generalization about their abilities. I spent eight years as a public planner myself, and I know the frustrations felt by all who are working their darndest in the public interest.

    I only bring this up because I noticed that posts to this thread stopped cold right after my rant.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,893
    Quote Originally posted by pete-rock
    Sorry if anyone was offended by my rant on incompetency. I know that the majority of planners here are public planners, and I hope no one thinks I'm making a sweeping generalization about their abilities. I spent eight years as a public planner myself, and I know the frustrations felt by all who are working their darndest in the public interest.

    I only bring this up because I noticed that posts to this thread stopped cold right after my rant.
    Pete, most of us public types have worked side by side with incompetent public types. I think we relate to your story much more than we are likely to be offended by it.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  16. #16
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Middle of a Dusty Street
    Posts
    6,357
    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    I have to wonder if the typo was intentionial...
    Now THAT was funny...
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    C'mon and get me you twist of fate
    I'm standing right here Mr. Destiny
    If you want to talk well then I'll relate
    If you don't so what cause you don't scare me

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Not Cliff Island, Maine :(
    Posts
    589
    I would think that the feeback is a positive... at least they appear to have a stake in its completion. With that being said, the inclusion of race information is a no-brainer. I'm kind of surprised they would question it. Of course, you also have to realize that some of the feedback may be coming from an elected official... just filtered through whoever your contact is.

    With that being said, I would think that a consultant would enjoy this type of feedback, as it would allow them a chance to show that they have a good relationship with strong communication with the client. A good way to keep the image of your company positive.
    Every time I look at a Yankees hat I see a swastika tilted just a little off kilter.
    Bill "Spaceman" Lee

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Aug 2002
    Location
    On the dark side and feeling divine!
    Posts
    202
    As a public sector project manager, I have to say that sometimes micro-management is necessary given the crap that has been delivered by some our consultants. If we are paying a consultant a godawful sum to do a plan or study, I expect that the consultant will have run spell-check or proofread to ensure that the other city's name has been replaced with ours. I am fully aware that recycling recommendations is common practice, but please do not insult my intelligence by giving me a deliverable with another city's name in the text. That's just sloppy. I went to graduate school to be a planner, not a proofreader.

    I wish it were as simple as firing said consultant or never using them again, but as we all know, politics is the name of the game.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Micro-managers
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 7
    Last post: 15 Nov 2012, 10:16 AM
  2. The Micro home
    Design, Space, and Place
    Replies: 10
    Last post: 01 Dec 2010, 9:52 AM
  3. Replies: 4
    Last post: 22 Dec 2008, 4:53 PM
  4. Difficult clients
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 6
    Last post: 16 Jun 2008, 7:59 PM
  5. Replies: 26
    Last post: 25 Apr 2007, 3:34 PM