Productivity by Michael Giuliana on 02/03/13
Something I've been noticing lately is the seeming deceleration of productivity with certain projects. Some of these projects never held a steady, productive pace... they just plotted along, taking miscommunication detours and overheating rest periods. What's caused this? How does one get through a project without major extensions or delays?
There are a few important steps to creating and maintaining healthy client relationships and keeping both parties happy. Unfortunately, mistakes are sometimes the best way to learn, and I'm fairly new at this. So what have I learned so far?
People lack good judgement, and the rules must be defined, by you, immediately upon encountering a scenario that wanders past the dotted line of appropriate business conduct and tracks mud through your kitchen. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to people I've never met, to my detriment. My clients have gotten away with a lot.
Don't worry, you can still be an accomodating and excellent resource while protecting your best interests. Like sleep. Sleep is important. How do you expect to work/think/analyze without sleep?
Get the details that you need to get the job done. Right away. Sure, you can get by like Marty McFly, but why? Just get what you need, and work through the project with a clear understanding of the problem domain. Without that base knowledge, you'll probably end up backtracking and refactoring. Trust me.
Of course, that all requires some sit down thinky-time before you really get moving. Though that idea feels strange to me, it's worth it. Most of my problem solving happens away from the computer screen - in the shower or right after/before sleep. Really analyzing and running through the extent of the project can help you gain a sense of what it'll really take.
When doing the above, it's most important to stay honest to both yourself and your client. Yeah, everyone loves to hear that their project will "be done in no time", but come on... don't just try and make them happy with words. That's why thinky-time and the problem domain are so important. You'll be doing everyone (including yourself) a favor by giving clients a realistic expectation of time-to-completion and delivering within that time frame, barring extraneous circumstances. If you track your time, which you should, it'll also help you down the road when you need to create estimates for new work.
Now either I listen to my own advice, and start acting on these thoughts, or I keep taking detours and scenic routes.