When you’re on staff, delays and changes are the norm. You will sit on your rear for a week or two and then work 18 hours a day for two weeks. That’s the nature of the beast. Little can be done unless the project manager is a brick wall for each and every new feature request and everyone involved is 100% committed to the milestones.
One client of mine ran special 12-week campaigns for large retail chains, and it gave only two weeks to creative and implement the design and content. Naturally, we all complained until we had a 50-50 split on time. It was better than a kick in the head… which, by the way, was part of the original arrangement: one week for execution and a kick in the head.
Serving a client is tricky. When a project grinds to a halt, you get no closure, and you quite possibly stop just short of a milestone that would have brought a substantial payment. For whatever reason, the client might have gotten nervous and put you on hold. Perhaps they’ve put their hopes in another cheaper solution, having found an attractive company to outsource to or wanting to do a favor for a friend who has just launched a Web design company.
The simple solution is to remind the client after several days have passed that the longer they delay, the higher the probability that you will need to jump to the next project and that you might not be available to deliver by the deadline. The client might simply not want to pay anymore and is scared to proceed. This is when the project manager becomes a psychologist.
You need to find out why the client is nervous and allay their fears. This will help you finish the job, get paid, get good word of mouth and keep a client who will provide future business. Say something like, “You’ve put a hold on your most important business tool. We’ve put a lot of effort into this, and I’m here to listen to and address any of your concerns. We don’t just give you a website and walk away. We are here to provide you with service and upgrades and all of your digital marketing, which is so important these days. How can I help you get to the next step?”
As the expert on the project, you might have to take the reins and guide the project through these twists and turns. You were hired to serve the client’s need using your expertise. Your name, reputation and pay are at stake, so stay in control as much as possible.
The same could be said of paid staff. If you’re resigned to being a pixel pusher and letting yourself get beaten into submission on every call, then the blame for the bad website will fall on your shoulders. Pick your battles and win the war.
The Smashing Editorial loves high-quality content and cares about little details. We also believe that content and design are crafts worth sharpening.
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