Web development and design is no different than any other industry in that the bulk of client satisfaction hinges on meeting deadlines. However that doesn’t mean that deadlines aren’t missed and missed all the time. Though I have never done a scientific poll I can say that the number one complaint I get from clients about working with developers is their seemly inability to meet a deadline.
Do I Work Best (or Only) Under Pressure
We have all read the articles that explain that procrastination is by nature a natural human behavior and we commonly hear people claim that they work best under the pressure of a deadline. I’m no scientist so I won’t argue any of that…. however based on non-scientific observation I know that not ALL people work “best”under a pressure but instead seem to be ALWAYS be working under the pressure (there is a difference). So this article is not about those people who gain performance from pressure but instead the deadlines that we impose on our Web teams.
Know When to Say ‘Nope, Can’t Do It’
You’ll hear me say time and time again, as I am guilty of it too… Web people don’t like to say they can’t do something and this includes meeting close to impossible deadlines. However both clients and web people need to be conscious of the fact that timelines are subject to reality and know when to recognize and call out an impossible request.
It is my observation that a client will be happier if you tell them you can’t meet their deadline but you can have their task completed by X, than if you tell them you will get something done by X and you miss it. However clients often put pressure on their web teams, almost pretending not to have heard the warning that the deadline can’t be met. There are responsibilities by both parties when setting deadlines:
- The client must listen to and respect the advise of their Web team
- The client must provide adequate time for any task and seek advice on what adequate time may be defined as
- The Web professional must set realistic expectations and know when to say ‘no’
Deadlines and the Rush Fee
Rush fees have always confused me a little. What exactly does a rush fee pay for?
- For me to work faster?
- For me to work more (after hours, maybe)? That’s probably the most reasonable explanation.
- For me to ignore my other responsibilities?
- The cost of pissing off my other clients when I don’t get their stuff done?
I equate rush fees to an experience I had flying in a very small airplane in Costa Rica once. We were told each passenger had a total weight limit for the safety of the flight. However I noticed that those passengers who had packed too much in their luggage, were not told to lighten their load but instead to pay a fee. Did their fee somehow make this tiny little airplane that much more safe??
Strange comparison I know, but throwing a rush fee at a developer and/or a Web developer accepting one does not change the fact that timelines are subject to reality.