Handling Difficult Client Scenarios in an Agile and Effective Manner

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Have you ever unexpectedly found yourself in an awkward or stressful situation with a client? How does one astutely react in a way that produces the best outcome? Our moderators, senior PATCA members Carl Angotti and Jerry Rice, will share their insights on dealing with such scenarios garnered from their respective several decade professional consulting careers. They will present hypothetical but realistic client scenarios that would certainly ‘try the mettle’ of even the most seasoned consultant.

Using interactive role playing and engaging one another and the audience, the moderators will work through scenarios exploring effective as well as some not so good approaches to handling these situations.

Sample client scenarios to be explored are:

1. The consultant has been engaged by the client and provided requirements for which he/she must create a set of agreed deliverables and a process that solves the client’s problem X. Late in the project the consultant meets with the client and realizes they are very upset because of a crisis that developed the prior day in which the new process was not able to handle a serious issue that arose.

Once the consultant is able to get more details from the client, he/she recognizes that the original requirements provided by the client didn’t address this specific problem. Nevertheless, the client is very angry. How does the consultant handle this situation?

2. The consultant is contacted by a past highly respected client and asked to assist with a new project. The arrangements are made and the consultant begins the project with the understanding of being available twenty hours per week for three months. A couple weeks after starting, the client suddenly announces that an important deadline is only a week away, and insists that the consultant work ‘as many hours as are needed’ to meet the deadline. How does the consultant handle this situation?

3. The consultant has been engaged on a project for a new client to perform a design in a slightly different technical area than the consultant is accustomed to. A project timeline has been established. Midpoint into the project the consultant has come across unexpected technical difficulties that have caused significant schedule delay. The client is becoming frustrated and angry with the delays. How does the consultant handle this situation?


Jerry W. Rice, principal of FABNexus Incorporated, has operated his Silicon Valley based software development consulting firm since 1982. Jerry specializes in network data communications and industrial automation applications, and is skilled with most flavors of Windows, Linux, and various embedded operating environments.

Carl Angotti, Principal of Angotti Product Development, has been a member of PATCA for many years, and has operated a Product Development firm for electronics based products for 35 years. He provides Project Management and Design Services for these products. Carl specializes in product concept, system architecture and design along with embedded hardware circuit design and analysis. He also creates teams of consultants to round out the resources to create these products.