Communication with a client is one of the most critical parts of cooperation. This rule can be applied to any industry, and IT is not an exception. But if we take a customer who creates a product and an IT staff augmentation company that finds and hires developers, communication between these two parties is kept to a minimum.
It means that some of the client’s wishes, requirements and feedback are unintentionally omitted. A vendor cannot get ahead of the game and act timely. However, you can avoid these trouble easily if you involve an account manager into a process.
Who is Account Manager?
An account manager is a customer relations manager, a person who has his/her finger on the pulse of the project and carries out communication between client, development team and top managers of staff augmentation company.
The client treats the account manager as a company representative who makes reports, arranges plans, sets sprints and deadlines and monitors team performance.
Corporations and enterprises hire project managers instead of account managers, but in case of a dedicated team that consists of a few members account manager is more than enough to control software development.
What Does Account Manager Do?
An account manager is an employee who works closely both with clients and many departments in the vendor company. Such person is a service provider – the better account managers work, the better experience customers get.
The responsibilities of the account manager include:
A crucial skill of any account manager is development of good relations between customers and vendors. The client should feel comfortable when solving issues or sharing information with the account manager.
Representing clients side
Account managers clarify project details and quality parameters and inform vendor’s top management about them. It is done to check if the demands correspond to the contract terms. If everything is fine, account managers render client’s requirements and ideas to the team.
The responsibility of an account manager is to explain all the peculiarities of the project to both sides, client and software developers. If the client is a non-technical person, account manager plays a role of advisor. He/she gathers the necessary information from various sources, analyzes it and presents to the client to make the final decision about technology and/or team structure.
Providing accounting services
The account manager is responsible for financial documents. For example, he/she works with invoices, so he/she has access to personal data and is responsible for storing and protecting it from third parties.
If a client doesn’t hire a PM for a project, the account manager will set the deadlines and check if the tasks are done on time. Account managers do it either on their own or together with development team leaders.
Being mediator between client and team
Organize meetings and calls with decision makers and their development teams, help with project presentations and collecting the necessary information, these all are responsibilities of IT account manager.
Usually the client doesn’t give feedback to programmers directly. The account manager has to get feedback about the performance of a whole development team and its members separately. Such feedback includes information about code quality and direct communication between the team and the client.
Account manager defines the level of client satisfaction. If it’s low, he/she works out the solutions to make it higher.
Defining clients needs
The task of the account manager is to define client’s requirements and render them to a team. Also, account manager holds meetings and discussions of the demands between the parties.
The account manager can show new opportunities to a customer, explain why and how to use them, and prevent problems in the future. But the later statement works only if the account manager establishes trustful relations with the customer.
To sum up, the account manager is a person who builds friendly relations between customer and development team and makes their cooperation efficient.
What Is the Role of an Account Manager?
Every customer wants to get top service: receive answers to his/her questions, get useful advice and ideas for business optimization.
IT business and software products often require complex solutions, and the level of responsibility for successful development is high. Either you hire a person who controls a team and solves ongoing issues, or you lose quality.
The role of account manager in a project is not limited to communication and rendering information from client to team and vice versa. He/she takes part in monitoring deadlines, checks and controls technical specifications and tasks, reviews task priority and project direction.
Despite a large number of project management tools, humans still cannot be replaced by machines, and they are better at controlling other humans.
None of the existing task tracking systems will cope with risk and crisis management. The main ground for conflicts is an inconsistency between expectations and reality.
But the account manager can notice prerequisites to arguments and prevent them or stop them at the early stages. Nobody is able to predict the future, but if you collect information from a team leader and analyze it thoroughly, you are able to make conclusions about progress and meeting deadlines.
Qualifications of Account Manager: Skills and Experience
Account manager knows all peculiarities and principles of vendor’s services and business processes. To be more precise, good account manager possesses the following skills:
- Strong interpersonal skills
- Good language command, both spoken and written
- Tact and tolerance.
- Strong negotiation skills
- Ability to persuade people
- Creativity and idea generation
- Time management skills: setting adjusting deadlines
- Motivating skills, team support
- Critical thinking
- Problem-solving skills
- Good sense of humor
- Managerial skills
- Understanding of inner processes in the vendor company
- Understanding of IT processes and software development stages
- Multitasking – the ability to work on a few tasks or even on a few projects
- Handling objections and refusals
The list of account manager’s skills and qualities is endless; these are the crucial ones for a person who works in the IT industry.
The account manager is not just a person who communicates with the clients but also helps them to develop exciting apps and finish the projects on time. Account managers try to grasp the client’s business, its structure, strategy, and objectives to offer better solutions.