One of the key strategies to deliver a project on time is to make sure your client understands what’s going on. The best way to accomplish this is to establish a simple process that you can explain in a few minutes and then follow it throughout the whole project.
In my freelance experience I developed a very simple strategy that has helped me be more efficient and look professional when meeting with clients. A typical first meeting goes like this:
- I talk a little about my experience and a little about my credentials and previous experience
- I show some related previous work
- Then I ask a very open question about the project at hand and let the client talk as much as possible
- I explain the “process” and the “rules”
- The client signs on the line which is dotted
This is how I do it
The most important aspects of the process are sharing progress and opportunities for change.
So, this is how it works:
- Split the project into small goals
- Split those goals into easy to complete tasks
- After a goal is completed I share the results with the client
- The client provides feedback and that feedback is considered final*
- Repeat (The number of iterations depends on the project)
* What I mean by feedback is considered final is that, if on the first round the client gives you feedback about X, Y and Z, everything else is considered correct and approved. On a future round the client can give you feedback about the changes asked for on the first revision (X, Y and Z only) but anything else is considered new (a change of mind if you will) and it will cost more and take more time.
By default every client gets two chances to review each goal and to provide feedback. If the client needs more revisions we are more than happy to do them, but the client will have to pay more and the due date of the project will be delayed.
As you can see this is really easy to explain in a few minutes and in my experience 100% of the time clients seem to react with more confidence. I think that it helps to show the client that there’s no need to babysit me. I will push the project forward and deliver results as fast as possible with many chances for them to influence my work.
Don’t be afraid to state the rules of the game before you begin. If the client doesn’t like these simple and fair rules it is best to let them go.
These approach has been so successful in my experience that when a client asks for a revision that he/she missed on a previous round they’ll say: “I know this is going to cost me more, but I really want it”. I love when this happens specially after so many times of hearing “I just need this quick change, it will take you a second” and not being able to charge for that.
A simple example
In a typical website project I have about 8 goals:
- 2 for wireframes and ux related stuff
- 2 for design (create PSDs or more recently Sketch files)
- 2 for getting the website ready for production (SEO, Analytics, Testing, etc.)
I try to split each goal into as many tasks as possible. The idea is that each task should be completed in less than 1 hour. This is great for my morale because it allows me to complete a lot of tasks per day and it just feels great to click the checkbox next to the task. It also has the added benefit of showing the client very granular progress updates on the project*.
* Depends on the project management app that you are using and on what access you give your client to that app.
To summarize, the idea is to make your client feel confident that you know what you are doing, give them visibility of the progress and provide chances to influence the work you are doing for them.
Finally, if you think this method might work for you and your clients, I’m happy to let you know that we designed Blimp to be specially good at handling this kind of process. You can try it for free. Let us know if it works for you.