If you're like me, you feel like you can tackle any project, get it done on time or before and with stellar success. Unfortunately, this attitude has brought me nothing but pain & suffering when doing work for clients. In the past, I always used to underestimate the difficulty of my projects and would convey that to my clients in the form of unrealistically small estimates on time and budget.
Luckily, I was usually on a team of highly motivated, competent people — so we were actually able to hit many of our deadlines but the products we were delivering weren't the highest quality and I started to get burned out. However, when I endured a hellish project that ultimately ended up in failure I finally saw the light. I started to realize that these tight deadlines were not only consistently making my clients upset but were ruining my life — it was then that I realized that I needed to:
LOWER THE BAR!
Okay, by this I don't mean that you should take advantage of clients or that you should be lazy … but that you under promise and over deliver. Make sure that when you estimate the scope of a project that you double or triple the number of hours you'd normally bid — so that you can account for any problems that you ABSOLUTELY WILL ENCOUNTER.
Clients don't typically like seeing estimates for large figures so you'll sometimes have to make small concessions — but if you aren't up-front with your clients from the beginning then once you start the work, your life can become hell on earth and they will be consistently disappointed. Trust me — sometimes its better to just not get the job than to work off of an unrealistic estimate.
Don't short-change yourself and do give yourself a chance to succeed by not pushing the envelope too much. Once the expectations and estimates have been set realistically and you actually come in under budget and ahead of schedule — you'll look like a rockstar instead of a buffoon for blowing it! You'll be happier and so will your clients.
i think that inexperienced / junior people in their careers often fall into these types of mistakes. For me, estimates are just a way of life and easier to manage when i have a good relationship with my customers. I think that is the key
Blair, Thank you for this and i do agree 100%, however ther are other way’s of unintentially falling into this black hole! As i had experience with a previous client. Dont let clients push limits with you, or wrangle you down on price! I had quoted a client on a slightly complex CMS website with the abillity to run a forum, chat system. this had all been quoted, accepted and started. Payment had been for phase 1,2,3, as i split the website into 4 phases. Suddlenly the client called a huge halt and a meeting was called. Now this is where i think designers/developers need to be VERY clear. We had discussed that there would be connectivity between users on the website, where this was made clean “to me i think…” Now i had the issue of my client not not wanting connectivity as such but… a social network :(. i have learnt and find that Clients as clever as they are, arn’t always. they really need to have lamens explanations re: everything to the last detail. or it will create a relationship from down under!
Great Blog Blair, thanks for the info.. Ps hurry up with the Graphics :p hahah