How many of you are parents who have experienced the, “are we there yet?”, phenomenon that happens with our kids while en route to wherever our destinations may be?  Or, how many of you remember doing that as a child (or teen..okay even as an adult…I raised my hand to all three!)”?  Now, how many business owners have experienced that same type of questioning from clients when it comes to project completion, “is it done yet, is it done yet?”

Yeah…we all have.

I’ve discovered along that way that one of the primary reasons why there can be project disconnect is because of lack of communication and engagement (among other things, but for this blog post, I am focusing on these two elements.)

Communication

“That should only take a minute to fix”.  Usually that’s not the case!  What may seem simple such as changing a font on a website, that is not as simple as changing a font on a Microsoft Word document.  It’s important not only for the service provider to communicate turnaround times, it’s important for the client to understand that some fixes/changes/tweaks and updates could take time and it’s important to realize that so expectations can be managed.  There is nothing worse than being in “fire-fighting” mode because of lack of communication and understanding of what these turnaround times look like.

A big source of frustration also comes from lack of knowledge or education.  I am not talking about knowledge or education received in school, but rather not having the full understanding of what the projects entails, how it can be completed, and the timelines associated with its completion.  For example, if a client wants to have a website developed, yes, they may have a general idea of what it takes to have a site developed, but it’s important for the service provider to layout the plan and clearly communicate the steps involved.  (This is where checklists and project tracking come in real handy!)

The reverse is also true.  It’s important for clients not to assume that their service provider “knows“ how they want things to be done.  There may be internal processes, programs, tools, or other applications that the client is already using or has had developed that they need to communicate to the service provider.

Take away:  When in doubt, just ask.  When you are not sure of how long something will take, just ask.  When you need something updated, ask what may be a realistic turnaround time.  And for the reverse, for those providing the service, it’s important to communicate in the beginning of the project what these turnaround times look like.  Lastly, don’t assume.  We all know what happens when the first three letters of that word come in to play after we “assume”.

Note:  I have had many clients think some changes to things could take a long time or are pretty involved, but when in reality it took no time at all!  See, not all of this communication talk is bad!

Engagement

It’s important for both the service provider and the client to “not check out” and to be “present” during the course of the project.  But hold on for just for a second…if you are paying for service you may be saying to yourself, “hey wait a minute, I am paying for a service, I expect a result”.  This may be true for say, your cable service provider, you pay for a service each month with the expectation that your 500+ channels will be there for you every day.  For other projects, such as having a web site designed or a marketing program developed, communication and collaboration have to be present.  This is due impart to include, but not limited to things such as:

  • Your “style” and preferences.  It’s not reasonable to expect your service provider to know what you like.
  • The look and feel or a concept idea of what you are looking for.  Providing examples is an excellent way to convey your vision or what you would like the end result to be modeled after.  If you are still not sure, ask!  Your service provider can then work with you to narrow down ideas etc.

This is no different than building a house.  You are present to pick out the style, features and layout.  The same holds true for some types of projects.  Staying present and engaged will help ensure your project turns out the way you want!