Changing that attitude

Bad and good peopleLots of various clients are lurking around IT. Some of them are an actual pleasure to work with. They are the ones that make you understand what you are doing at your job actually. And why you love it so much. Still not every day is a Friday and not every client is an angel. Some of them actually irritate you to the point when you are catching yourself thinking that 20 years for murder is a reasonable price to pay and it won’t even be so long.

And you may be surprised with what may be achieved by simple hand-holding with your client. You have to be his guide, his lighthouse and trustworthy companion. Let’s look through some of the most common issues that are constantly popping up here and there in IT.

That guy just does not know what he wants

I’ve once heard that software developers are actually the magical people that are transforming client’s hallucinations into a solid formal system. That can be true more often than you’ve imagined. Clients do often tent to be completely uncertain with what they desire. All they have is a general idea, and they want the thing to have, I don’t even know, let’s say rabbits on their front page and that is it. And it is of course quite irritating for you as a specialist with lots of experience in the field.

Put yourself on the clients place. For how many times have you been at a café or a restaurant that is full of delicious dishes and did not know what to choose? You’ve asked the waiter for advice, right? Same here.

Clients in general are mostly looking for recommendations rather than fixed solutions. Talk to them. Ask for more details. Make some professional recommendations. It may take quite a deal of patience explaining things you are great at to a man that is not from your IT world. But when the conversation is flowing the ideas will start popping up and there will be the one amongst others you’ll be able to bounce off. Voila!

The abandoned puppy syndrome

I like to call these kind of clients ‘abandoned puppies’. Don’t even know why, I just do. They are the ones that feel left out of the process. And it is not their fault (mostly). The trick is that it’s easy to begin on the same page. And harder to maintain that connection throughout the project. So when there is no proper communication all starts to shatter like a house of cards on a windy beach of St. Maarten.

In order to prevent this try with creating a calendar of a sort. The one that will include all your activities as well as data on when the client should provide extra info, etc. That will make the client feel in the flow of action. Yet this step is just the beginning. Don’t forget regular calls and email, especially when you are about to change something. That way both sides will be happy.

I changed my mind!   

God, I hate this thing the most. There were all these briefings and meetings and discussions. Everybody agreed on all the points and everybody was happy. Until the client saw the already built stuff and changed his mind or got a new ‘cooler’ (or so he says) idea or whatever. So all the work you’ve done is wasted. Or is it?

Actually, pretty often, the new and the old can be combined if you put a bit of your mind to it. Always have an open line of communication about the process and the possible changes that may be added. Often the shock of the clients desire to go in another direction is worse that the effect of the decision. Keep calm, and work things out with the client like a professional. Try to get to the golden middle and in 90% cases you will succeed if you act like a pro. For the other 10% always keep appropriate lines in the contract that is backing the project up and thus charge them for the extra work.

The client is not speaking your language 

The client is not aware of all IT aspects and does not get what you are actually saying? Of course. He’s not supposed to, otherwise why would he be paying you money? Your job is educating clients as well as completing their projects. So try doing so in an understandable language skipping all the unnecessary terminology. Thus you will be on the same page.

Let’s make it blue, no it looks better when green, or maybe blue? 

The common issue is when the client is not too precise on what he desires. You make a button. He does not like its blue color. You change the color to green. He wants the color to be deeper. You make it deeper, the client states that you are as close as it can get with one slight detail. He wants a blue button.

Such issues are never rare and the outraging battles keep bursting out at this field. Thus, in order to prevent yourself ask for more details. When the client is e-mailing you a request be sure to provide him an open answer with all the possible questions that may provide you details of the task.

As a finishing line I’d like to tell you one thing. You know what they say “An e-mail a day keeps the client away”.