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Spotting a Problematic Project Before It Begins

By September 11, 2018 No Comments

Having many projects to work on is a good problem to have. However, you want to make sure that you don’t take on problematic projects that will eat up your time and not give you much in return.

There are a myriad of ways new opportunities can turn into nightmare projects. Micromanagers, unresponsive clients, scope creep, late payments, miscommunication, and never ending delays are all factors. Much of these conflicts takes experience—and a lot of itto spot in a client or project before it begins. However, there are also ways to sidestep these disasters if you know what cues to look for.

Cue #1: The Project Comes With Lack of Detail

“Hi there, we need freelance writing / design / web development support. Can you send me your rates and when are you available to start?”

While it sure is appealing to receive inquiries in your inbox, this message lacks details: What exactly do you need me to write for? What designs do you need? Can you explain your project in detail?

A vague request is not a good sign for a project, as a lack of clear goals is the most common factor (37%) behind project failure, according to executive leaders. It may be reasonable for a business to remain vague in a preliminary email, but if they’re asking for price and availability from the get-go, there’s a high chance they’ve already copy and pasted this request to others, and are simply scouting for the best price.

A good best practice is a short response thanking them for reaching out and suggesting a phone consultation to better understand their project needs and to create a customized quote and timeline. Either way, if you don’t hear back, you can move on to better clients. If the call goes well, you can prepare a proposal that outlines exactly what you can provide and how much it will cost them.

Cue #2: You’re Constantly Bidding On Project Work—And Losing

Some clients may have found their way to you through word of mouth, which is gold. However, be wary of clients who found your name straight off the internet and know nothing about you. These clients are likely fishing for the cheapest options and you don’t know for certain that they will pay you.

If you find yourself having to bid on work to please a client where you have to give up quality for price, say no to the job. Never sacrifice the quality of your product or service to be the “cheapest option”.

It makes sense for consumers and businesses to shop around for the overall best candidate and price, but if you find yourself losing out on jobs, try improving your proposal submissions.

A less-than-professional-looking bid makes for a poor impression and can eliminate you from the running at first glance. Are you currently submitting a quote for a job by email? On Word or Excel? A comprehensive, well-written bid can make all the difference—to winning the project work to having your bid thrown in the “no” pile.

Cue #3: Clients Who Simply Don’t Know What They Need

The foundation of a successful project is the decision making that occurs before a project start. Is it a go or a no-go? Once you’ve weighed out the factors, you’ve officially begun to pave the way to your project success. These include:

  • Can my team and I provide the scope?
  • Am I a good fit for the job?
  • Do I have the right resources and team members for this job?
  • Do I have the time to meet the project schedule?
  • Can I accomplish the work within the proposed budget?

Think of it this way: if clients don’t have a clear sense of their needs, or are hesitant about your rate, then they are likely not ready for you. If they can’t confidently communicate what they need from you, how can you conduct a go / no-go process, or decide if you’ll do the work?

Understandably, clients who own or work for non-profit organizations or small- to mid-size businesses with limited resources have price concerns. If the client appears to be a reasonable person, it might be worth considering the work (and risk) if their budget isn’t highway robbery (i.e. $50 to write a 1,000-word blog post), you have the time in your schedule and it seems you can knock the project fairly quickly, or the work is in an industry that you’ve been trying to break into.

Spotting cues before a project begins can be the life blood of your project success. Conduct a proper go / no-go procedure before you take on a project or client—the reputation and credibility of your business depends on these key factors.

Once you’ve got a couple of clients and projects lined up, you can track your projects, income, expenses, and even client information directly within Kashoo! Kashoo even allows you to send invoices from directly within the app. Try Kashoo free today!