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Avoiding Deadline Dangers

Deadlines can work for or against your business. How well you manage them depends on how well you manage client expectations. Here's how to ensure you avoid deadline dangers.

It's worth remembering that even if you're not in a deadline-driven business, you're sure to encounter them as a client of suppliers and support personnel.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a friend who was drowning in deadlines. Everything was wanted urgently and her level of stress was palpable.
Something was clearly very wrong and I wondered how such a competent independent business owner had got into such a mess. After some gentle interrogation the answer popped up quite readily.

Rather than clarifying precise deadlines with her customers, a number of vague dates and times had been agreed upon. The reason for this --- and it's often the reason, is that my client allowed her laid back, easy-going nature to translate into areas that simply don't suit these characteristics.

We must remember that many of our clients are but simple folk who cannot be expected to grasp the nuances of workflow. Therefore it's up to us to take the lead.

If we accept undefined deadlines we only have ourselves to blame when the client comes back (usually early) wondering where the job is.

For example if a matey client says stuff like, 'oh, look, three to four weeks will be fine' you can bet your life you'll be pursued at the three week mark, at which point you may not have even made a start on their project.

In my experience, clients frequently remember the earlier date and suppliers the latter.

Undefined deadlines are like sheets of paper blowing in the wind. Neither party has a realistic handle on expectations. Surely just a disaster waiting to happen?

From the outset of any new job or assignment, get yourself a nice chunky paperweight in the form of a definitive deadline.

What are your thoughts? Post a comment and tell the world.

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