Push it Real Good
Stephanie Hay, Former Viget
Trying to navigate the sensitive communication involved in keeping a project within scope in the early stages of your relationship with a client can be tricky. When a client begins to ask for bells and whistles beyond the original discussions, but doesn't want to compromise on budget or timeline, it's essential that project managers be comfortable pushing back. Being honest early in the relationship that some seemingly "simple" changes can dramatically affect the bottom line or the launch date will set the stage to promote effective communication. Just as we -- a dynamic, full-service web consulting company (and a fabulous one, at that) -- are accountable for the quality and deliverables of our work, the client must be responsible for making informed choices. She can't do that if, instead of openly mentioning the impact of those decisions, we quietly scramble to try and accommodate her requests. Keeping mum until the critical final stages can lead to the client *understandably* wondering why the project is late and over budget. On the flipside, allowing for some flexibility whenever possible shows the client that her wishes are being weighed realistically. Committing to five small changes might push the limits of the budget, but their effect on the overall relationship with the client could be priceless -- particularly if that flexibility and nimble reaction leads to future work. Learning to balance this desire to please with the realistic constraints of money and time is a challenge project managers wrestle with each day. But our long-term relationships with clients -- and their ongoing commitment to our company -- is dependent upon us demonstrating the utmost integrity and honesty during a site build, especially when we have to say "no."