Managing client perceptions and expectations is the foundation to leading any successful project. Sounds simple, right? The reality is when a client is under extreme pressure to get a new site launched by a quickly approaching deadline, communication is not always clear cut or straightforward. So, what is the best way to keep the lines of communication open with a client while managing a complex project under tight deadlines? My answer: a status report.
The inner workings of a project status report
Open lines of communication and frequent project status reports are often the best and sometimes the only ways to maintain a healthy client relationship through the normal bumps of a project. Status reports keep the client apprised of project progress and outstanding risks/issues. Regular client communication allows the vendor to address accomplishments, risks/issues, next steps and, when necessary, update the client on budget status and manage expectations for a deliverable that has reached – or is about to reach – the end of the budget.
My “go-to” status report looks like this:
Overall Project Status:
- Percent to completion
Reserving room for flexibility
Without regular status reporting and communication you can lose the opportunity to allow for flexibility to accommodate special client requests without sacrificing schedule and scope. Reserving the flexibility to meet an unplanned client expectation can be a huge value add. It may come at a short-term cost, but the long-term gains will make up for it. Putting the extra effort forward for an unplanned project component demonstrates to the client you care about their goals and timeline while maintaining your budget … and yes, both are possible!