Doing

Doing

It’s Okay to Move On

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During the spring of 2014 I was on a “commitment diet.” Over the previous years I had started a few too many different initiatives that required various amounts of time and energy. By the time 2014 rolled around, I was scrambling every week just to keep up. I was getting really, really tired. My “diet” started with a decision to not take on any new projects, no matter how tempting they were. That was hard, but not nearly as hard as deciding what of my existing activity to phase out so I could claim a little bit more white space on my calendar. As I looked down over the list of initiatives and ongoing projects that I had on my plate, I felt very reluctant to give any of it up. When I commit to something, I take that commitment very seriously, and I work hard to make it the best that it can be. So, even the thought of quitting anything that I was involved with—or worse, something I had started—made me feel a great sense of guilt and failure. I realized that this inability to let go of things was a problem that needed to be addressed as […]

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Meetings Take a Long Time

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Over the years as a custom software development project manager, I’ve spent an incredible amount of time in meetings. I’ve done my share of sales and discovery meetings, internal design meetings, review and planning meetings, project deployment meetings, post project analysis meetings, and many, many more! One thing I’ve learned from all of that experience is that no matter what, there’s no getting around the fact that we need meetings… and they really can take a long time. It’s something that I’ve had to get used to and educate my clients about, particularly those who aren’t fans of spending much time together. But, why do we need so many meetings? Whether we’re building a new application, website, brand, or marketing strategy for a client, the bottom line is that we’re making something new, something that didn’t exist before. As creative consultants, we need to make sure we’re aligned with the needs of our clients—any quick game of “whisper down the lane” is enough to prove that communication is subject to context, perspective, and interpretation. As a result, we have to iterate on our ideas to make sure that we’re getting the maximum amount of information from our clients and that […]

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Confidence is Key for Managing Projects

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I’ve had the privilege of managing dozens of custom software development projects over the years, from very small custom business applications to large web applications that support hundreds of users. As a result, I’ve dealt with many project owners whose primary responsibilities were to deliver project requirements to my team to and ensure that all stakeholders would be satisfied with the work. In addition to managing projects myself, I’ve had the good fortune of teaching and coaching a project management methodology to several small software development shops. In a recent coaching session, I was asked what I believed to be the most important attribute of a project manager. Beyond any technical skills, or even rote knowledge of whatever process has been implemented, I believe that the answer to that question is simply: confidence. Regardless of what you’re being hired to do as a creative consultant, your clients likely don’t do or have never done that kind of work. You do. As you engage with a client, initially through the sales process, and eventually through the project kick off, design, creation, and finally the delivery phases, your client is depending on you and your team to do what you do best. […]

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Doing

Ask Molly: How To Fire A Client

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How do you know when to fire a client and how do you do it? Dear Molly, I have a client who has been very difficult and demanding from the very beginning of our engagement. At this point, they are calling me at odd hours and are holding back on invoices until I “fix all the bugs.” The database I built for them is up and running and they have not actually identified bugs, they just keep complaining that the data is wrong (which was their responsibility to import). My question is how do you know when to fire a client and how do you do it? Sincerely, Cindy Zelinske, Databug Solutions Dear Cindy, By the time you are asking if you should fire a client, the answer is, “Yes—yesterday.” One of the great benefits of working for yourself is that you are the one who decides who you work with. There may be a lot of reasons you feel you have to stick it out—you want to deliver what you promised, you want to please the client, you feel like you owe them, you are hoping there will be more business down the line…But at the end of the […]

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