Have you ever got to the 'end' of a long project only for your boss to heap another stack of work on to your desk? That's what it can feel like when a client suddenly decides to make changes to a project at the last minute. You see, us agencies have systematic approaches to our work - we plan resources and schedule time carefully to make sure our briefs - for all our clients - are completed. When a change request comes in at the last minute, it can create serious pipeline problems.
After years of working with clients of all shapes and sizes, we've learned that even the most experienced entrepreneurs can be habitual change requesters. Never make assumptions about the working approaches of your clients, and always have a few fail-safe processes ready just in case.
Here's five you can start using today;
- Protect yourself from the outset by clarifying what constitutes a change request - the easiest way to do this is to include a clear definition of the project process at sign off, including exactly what constitutes a change request, with clear examples
- Question the proposal spec to make sure it covers all functional aspects - check it, and double check it again with a developer (if you can)
- Request a prepaid change request budget at the outset; this can be controversial, but if you can make your case it’ll be worth its weight in gold, we promise!
- Don't accept every request blindly - check them against the original spec, and question whether they’ll add real value to the product
- Request payment for changes on an hourly basis - working in a T&M (time and materials) fashion can make the CR process run more smoothly than having to produce numerous fixed price quotes when you’re up against it
If all else fails, however, it may be best to just bite the bullet and deal with the change request *whispers* for no fee. In the end, your reputation and long-term relationship with the client is more important than a few hours work. As long as you make sure it’s not setting a precedent, that is...