Benjamin Read's code garden.

Deliverables and Trust

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This article is about: engineering

It’s vitally important to have success before you start a project-perhaps the most critical stage to have success. But how far should we go in order to get our clients on board? Should we try to “wow” clients into signoff? Here’s why that is a bad idea.

So you’re taking this proposal to your new client. You sit down in the boardroom, a little nervous but trying to hide it. You naturally have done everything in your power to ensure the success of the meeting. What will win over this set of decision makers and stakeholders to invest in your proposal?

I can see why we are so tempted to take in visual designs as deliverables to these early meetings. It’s only natural to want to impress … but there’s a danger lurking at this tender stage of the project which could ruin the conclusion, and cause stress and frustration for every team member in between.

Swaying the opinions of stakeholders is vitally important. But I argue there are 2 ways of doing it. We can win stakeholders over with demonstration of genuine professionalism, interest in their affairs, and understanding of their business needs.

It doesn’t take much for a client to feel let down. Unmet expectations are a slippery slope.

So take time to get to know their assumptions. Ask these kinds of questions:

At this stage it’s not just the business goals that are important. Depending on the client, it’s beneficial to try to train them to see things from their users perspective. Help them to see that their new site is for their users—new and repeat customers. If they are aware of that, if you’re an advocate for the user in these meetings, you demonstrate professionalism and help them see that you have business goals in mind.

Deliverables and trust are difficult to negotiate on. But if we avoid “wowing” our clients and instead seek to understand them, the outcome can be much better—for us and for them.”

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