“It’s incredibly easy to blame a client when a website project comes off the tracks. This creates negativity, animosity and ultimately an unhappy client – something we all want to avoid. Through telling stories and delving into the learning I’ve gleaned from many client projects, this session will explore the psychology and methods behind a loving client relationship.
I will talk frankly about client relationships that turned sour, how I salvaged them, and how I am now happily loved up with these clients. Think of it as a public relationship counseling session, where the audience gets to listen in on the couple’s most intimate secrets!
While weighted towards managing client relationships, the talk will cover how every member of the team, from design to development, marketing to HR, is responsible for fostering a positive and loving relationship with clients.”
ANT MILLER: Hi everyone, hi, hi everyone, welcome back to track A, if you are near the back and people might be coming in, we have got loads of room on the end don’t worry make yourselves at home, no-one has to move it will be fine.
Hi welcome back this session is client tales, oh, I remember this, sorry what?
NEW SPEAKER: Tales from the Clientside.
ANT MILLER: Tales from the Clientside. This is Tom Chute from Pragmatic where he is an account manager will be exploring the highs and lows and best ways of dealing with clients keeping business on the road on the track. This is a 30 minute or so talk, there is 10 minutes for questions at the end. Your mic runners will be Carol at the back and Dave who will be doing time keeping I am running around too. Think of the questions coming along. WordPress is a business for most of us here, and business is more than just technology. It’s definitely, definitely about people. So please join me in welcoming Tom to stage and hopefully, educating us and sharing wisdom in how we can get the best out of the relationships with the people we really care about our lovely client. Tom. (applause).
TOM CHUTE: Thank you. Thanks ant. Welcome everyone to tales from the client side. The reason why it’s in this slightly scary, horror font is because sometimes client communication, client relationships can be a bit scary and strike a bit of fear into us. That’s the last we’re going to see of the horror font this will all be about how we can foster and generate loving and happy client relationships and I am going to tell some stories, because it’s the best way to explore those ideas.
So, who am I? As Ant says am an account manager at Pragmatic, my role is looking after 20 and 30 accounts, which means that I work very closely with the clients to put together new projects, come up with ideas for new programmes of work, and basically just I am the interface between the clients and our dev teams and our design teams.
Previously to my work at Pragmatic I was a client of Pragmatic’s, so about 7 years ago I ran an environmental charity, we needed a fast, good, cheap website and I know that’s the Holy Grail but we got most of that and it was through WordPress, and I fell in love with WordPress then. And looked at ways to use it more, and a few years later, a bumped into the Dave at a Christmas party, managed to get a job working with WordPress which is great. Previous to that I was working for an environmental sales company, and it was selling carbon footprint off setting, and it was a very different role. It was hard sales, it was very cold sales, we were using techniques like neurolinguistic programming to manipulate our clients. When we were ringing up it was really hard sales, getting people to do stuff that maybe they didn’t want to do we could use these techniques to get them to do it. Felt weird, I am happy to say I don’t do any of that anymore, I only lasted there a few months before moving on. What that did give me was a really good insight into the way I don’t want to do client relations.
Why do I care on a personal level, I love my job going into work part of this is working with really lovely clients who I get on with and have a really, really good relationship so by generating, keeping happy, loving relationships with my accounts, it means it’s a good place to work. So, because it’s all about relations, I realise there’s a lot of similarities between client relationships and relationships outside of work our romantic relationships and relationships with friend and family. Those of you under 30 who don’t watch early morning Channel 4 programme, this is Fraser, he’s a relationship counsellor on radio, he’s a pretty good he’s quite funny we will be using Fraser to analyse and look at some client gripes and moans they might have and try and address them in a relationship counselling kind of way.
So welcome to your counselling session. (laughter) here’s our first gripe. You don’t understand me anymore. In loving relationships, this is a real end of the line sort of stuff, you have got to do a lot to claw it back, but why is do clients say you don’t understand me anymore? So, this story is going to be of a non-techie disappointed client, they didn’t have a very technical team, we didn’t see, we were misaligned we didn’t see eye-to-eye on certain brief, we were always saying their briefs were poor but that was because we didn’t understand what they were trying to say, they said you’re not understanding us. They had bigger partners which meant there was cascading pressure, they were getting a lot of pressure from their partners, that trickled down to us and we were at the end of the line so we got the brunt of it.
Two years into the relationship, still slightly unsure about what their goals are not really understanding them. So how can we dissect that a little bit and try to understand what they really want and how we can better service them. Well, this is an actual phrase that one of the people used there, it one of the best miss phrases I have ever heard on the phone ‘I am on a burning platform I don’t want to be the one left carrying the baby with the bath water being poured over my head.” I don’t think that’s right at all. It’s quite funny, what it’s telling me as account manager they are really upset. Let’s break this down. I am on burning platform, they were feeling pressure, they were running out of time, expressing they were not in a comfortable place. I don’t want to be the one crying the baby, carrying the baby, this the individual at the organisation j they felt that they could be the one that was to blame for this when the big partner started cascading down the pressure. I guess no-one wants to get bath water poured all over head. How can we break that down and address it? When we try to understand the clients we try to say we know them, we no their business and actually what we really need to do is delve a lot deeper than just knowing the business or just knowing the project you are working on if you have got a brief for one project don’t just look at that thing in isolation, look at the reason why that project is being briefed into you into at the business competitor’s, their market if you can get back to them with rather than just saying yes we’ll do that work saying actually maybe your competitor are doing this do you want to try this, or come back to them with some consultancy rather than just responding to a brief. One of our clients recently used the term, leapfrog experience, so what they have done is talk about a competitor, we looked at that competitor and said we want to do this. We said well can we do a bit better, they came up with an expression of a leapfrog experience we see that an we leap over it. Trying to bring leapfrog experience to your clients by knowing their market and their competitor and knowing about them.
Continued discovery so something we do a lot of at Pragmatic at the beginning of each project is discovery and definition phase which help us align with the client, help us under why they are doing it gets all the background out if you only do that once for that one project you don’t keep it up, you’re not earning about them you’re not growing with them not understanding what they are going with this business, you are sort of just staying static. If you are in a romantic relationship that you didn’t learn or grow with the person for 6 months maybe it would get stagnant that’s not a good place four relationship to be.
Look at the individuals in the organisation. Look at who your point of contact is. What are their performance indicators, what are their goals. So, while they briefed in this project that might be a massive one for the organisation, what are they trying to get out of it because if you can work out what that individual wants and what they want to present to their boss or, you know the board or whoever it might be you can help them they will come back you to and say you really helped me out with that here’s another project here’s some more work. Work out their individual goals you can really get back to them with some good stuff. In idea that has been suggested to me recently is about going to that individual, understanding their goals and giving them 10 ideas a month. Saying to them, here’s 10 idea’s there’s some wacky ones in there pretty boring ones but pick a couple, if you keep doing that month on month they are going for 1 or 2 that are great you will keep them hitting your target they will keep coming back to you.
In romantic relationship, if someone comes to you or your partner comes to you and says I am really upset about this you just go, ok just do that. That’s not really understanding what they are coming to you with a problem for, they might just want to talk it through. Understanding doesn’t just mean finding solutions it means understanding where they are coming from and why they might be feeling that you might have a completely different solution are after you have talked it through with them. Create time with the clients to have an informal chat, let them moan at you for a bit, let them unload what they are thinking and really get where they are coming from.
Next one, have you met someone else? (laughter) dangerous. This is where the client is feeling or your partner is feeling a little bit shunned. They might be thinking why am I not getting the love I used to get from you, why are you not caring about me as much as you used to you’re not doing the things you used to do for me. This is a really dangerous situation to be in any relationship. So, this the shunned client. Indicators they might be feeling, they might ask you how are things over there, house your business. If you go back to them with yeah it’s great we have got these mega clients, lots of good stuff coming in, they are having a pretty shaky experience with you or they feel like a small client how do you feel they are going to feel? Pretty bad, they might get small client syndrome. When you talk about these shiny new things you are working on it might not necessarily be with them if you are talking about all the cool new things, the great new project they are saying hang on that’s not my stuff, so the shiny stuff for us but not for them.
How does Fraser deal with this? How do you maintain positivity round the smaller accounts when you have got other thing there are taking up more of your time. It’s really quite simple, it’s just understanding what that person needs at a personal level, what that account needs at a personal level, it might be like I said quick phone call once a week, we’re not doing much work for you at the moment but how’s it going. Some people like to be taken out for a drink, lunch, just a chat to show you love them. Some people do like to moan and some people will bully you and say, look you are talking about this other client but what you are doing for me, let them unload, work out the opportunities when they’re unloading, when they are meaning some clients do that, keep them positive and keep new projects coming in from that.
So, the trickle-down effect is a really good way to talk positively to small clients about the big work you are doing, rather than just saying we are doing a big shiny project over here, don’t worry about it, we are just doing it, it’s cool, wait for the launch, you actually say, look we are doing this really good project, there is some really interesting technology at the cutting-edge it’s a big budget this project, once we have that learning, once we understand how it works with that client, there might be stuff you can do with a smaller client a bitesize version, you have lots of opportunity to share the knowledge with a smaller client, give them ideas, it might not be that week or month, next year when they have a bit more budget, give them some good ideas.
Be honest about the pressure on resourcing that big clients take, so, if you have got a mega project coming in, let the smaller clients know, don’t try and hide in, sort of when they come in with a small request and say, “Actually guys we are stacked”, let them know in advance, look we have a big project coming in, you need to let us snow six weeks in advance to schedule in, be honest, don’t try and hide.
You never want to do anything with me, anymore, it’s about availability, at the start of a relationship you might have loads of time for each other spending every minute of every day with each other as it moves on it starts fiddling out, one half or the other might feel you are not spending as much time with me as you used to, it’s when relationships start fizzling out, this is an actual client story, I’m censored it we were working for a Christmas Wonderland, we have seen them every year, they pop-up in car parks they never to seem to be a success, this was an interesting project it came to us very late, probably October, they had sold thousands and thousands of tickets for it via their website, they were in big trouble, the site was very, very shaky, of course, as it got closer and closer to the event, there were a few news items, Santa behind the shed drinking tequila, the car park was a flooded mother site, the thousands of people buying the tickets, that were very expensive, all came through to do a refund almost instantly, the site collapsed. In terms of availability, it’s a tenuous link, we had supported that client, but it definitely didn’t cover 11.30 on a Sunday evening you know, that wasn’t part of the deal, mistakenly I took the call and basically got a shouting at from this client, he did swear in front of his wife, it was not a pleasant experience, that was us just not agreeing, aligning expectations around availability, what we said that beginning, we was probably a bit lose, we didn’t say it would be in office hours, you can contact us, just setting expectations about availability, when you will be there it helps avoid these kinds of situations.
So, probably the key point is understanding what you get involved in, we definitely didn’t do enough on this wonderful Christmas car park we ended up supporting! [Laughter].
You feel like you are hiding stuff from me, this is when one part of the partnership is hiding their phone, doesn’t want the other half looking on their Facebook, we’ve all seen it, it’s never good. So, in terms of the client we have had this, you get the panic calls, you get the questions like where is all my money going you are not being transparent enough, we started this project a few weeks ago and I’ve not seen anything, you often get a phone call, this is a quote now, “Have been left in the dark”, what we then might do to address that we might start over communicating, going on coffee breaks, we’re going for drinks after work all the stuff, right down to the minute detail.
So, this was a direct quote, so, “I’ve been very interested to read your company’s Christmas internal blog and can offer some advice around the team issues, however I don’t think I should be on the distribution list.”
It was a great example of over communicating by mistake, we didn’t need to go in to that much detail. So, understanding what level of communication the client needs, so rather than just guessing it why not ask, if you have got a client that needs a lot of attention and wants, throughout the project, daily updates, if you included in the budget why not. Just make sure you have it covered and the expectation set.
Stakeholders, if you are working with a client that’s got hundreds of stakeholders and you have one Project Manager or you are just a freelancer on your own and you are trying to communicate with all those stakeholders, we have had examples where the Project Manager spends all their time up dating fifteen different people, that’s not cool, you need to work out the right levels and understand that from the off. Don’t build a wall, if you have got, you know, stuff that you can share be transparent, don’t share anything if it’s not in your interests, but you know, where you can, share it if it’s not going to muddy the waters or anything like that, just share, you know, if you keep people up-dated and maybe not fire e-mails at them, but let them know where they can go to see stuff, just share.
I need some space. So, this is actually a bit of a misleading one, because this is about space to share, so one of the issues we have, working with lots of different accounts, lots of different projects, each client might have a specific area or a… umm… a web tool they use to communicate, so if we used all of our client ones we would probably have a few hundred different logins for lots of different services, it’s a nightmare with the logins, lots of tools doing the same job and it’s really hard to refer back to the decisions that have been made, they have been made in lots of different places. So, something that we have really tried hard to achieve in the last sort of, umm… few years at Pragmatic, is working out the best way to share information with clients.
So, I just wanted to share some tools we use and how we use them. We use software called Confluence, that ties in with Project Manager software JIRA, Wiki, if you have had to answer a question more than once, add it to the Confluence and refer the client back to the shared space, the Wiki, that’s been a really improvement over the last year at Pragmatic, clients love it. We use Google Docs, whatever you agree it, stay firm, if you get a link to Dropbox and you know you are using Drive, kindly and fairly just say, “We are using Drive, please put it in there”, soon as you start being helpful and let them use other bits of software that you didn’t agree, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Project management software this is a bit of a bug bear of mine, I think we have used probably ten different bits of software at Pragmatic over the years, getting it right, once you have agreed to it stick to it, work with the foibles and make it work for you.
Slack at messaging, Slack has become used by everyone, it’s great. We have got clients on our Slack, also great, but what it can turn into is an open-ended meeting all the time, unless you have got that in the contract you are going to run up the hours just responding to their Slack messages, so use it carefully, use the integrations carefully, make sure you have the right comments going into the right channels, make sure you keep private stuff private. Drive and Dropbox we have already mentioned.
With all these bits of software and the tools, just right at the beginning of an engagement with the client, you know, a new project or a new programme of work, have a way of working meeting, sit down, go through all the tools, go through how you are going to use them, the frequency you will use them, answer any questions they might have about, you know, the different, the different tools and how they use them and then agree that, get that signed-off, that’s the bit, that’s the deliverable in the project you can say, “we agreed all this, signed-off”, then if someone starts deviating from it you can go back to that point and get them back on track.
Our final tale, my favourite one, “You said this but you mean something else”, it’s where you try and communicate something, you might be trying to protect a client’s feelings, I’ve been in many meetings where designers have had their feelings hurt by the client who said — you know [Inaudible] sometimes you have got to tell a hard truth to clients too.
The example I’m going to give is a client that mixed family with business. It was and friends, and we were getting a lot of pressure from this client around the delivery of the project and they were asking, you know, “Why is it late, why is there a hold-up?” I knew it was because the copy writer was slow, we were getting stuff that was not accurate, the information architecture wasn’t great it was just a bit of a nightmare, the issue was, the copywriter and the copywriter was… his son! [Laughter].
So, I was wracking my brains this client would fall into the ‘bully’ category a lovely guy but when he wanted it done he wanted it done, for a couple of weeks I was wracking my brain thing how to have the conversation, it’s your son that’s the issue, he’s really not good enough, we are getting all this rubbish coming through we can’t deliver. After a few weeks, not months, that would be a disaster, after a few weeks I said I’m going to have that phone call, I rang him up and said, “It’s your son that’s the problem it’s the copywriting… “, I didn’t say it’s all bad, this is where we need to improve. We can get a copywriter into help and support your son. He went, “That’s great, brilliant, when can we start?” The build up to the conversation we had had, I was probably shaking, I had this call and he said, “That’s great, where can we start”, in a couple of days we had a copywriter supporting his son, it was beautiful, we got the site love, I had the completely wrong assumption, being honest and dealing with it immediately, other than lingering on, it will only build up, sometimes you completely is understand or guess what they’re going to say.
So, to summarise, understand your clients, not just the projects. So, understand the background, understand the context for their work and understand the individuals you are working with why they’re doing it. Be transparent and honest, it’s a thing that I’ve learnt and it’s been the most effective thing I’ve learnt, is being honest and having those tough conversations immediately, soon as you spot, you know, an issue, be honest, be open, be transparent. Tell a hard truth, sometimes it’s… what’s the expression, you have got to be cruel to be kind, sometimes this is definitely very important.
Thank you very much. I would welcome some questions if you have got any [Applause].
THE CHAIR: Thank you Tom, I’m sure we will have some questions from the audience, do we have any hands, just yet… ah, yes, down that front. Yes Sir?
FROM THE FLOOR: Yeah, hi, thanks I really enjoyed your talk. In regard of corroboration, there was quite an amount on the market and it can be probably confusing, including the client not giving them access to, far too many of those communication tools. So, what we use, actually, in the old days we had a project site, just a small website where we provide all this information needed for the client, really and it was just a better relationship, if you have other ideas, we could hear more about them.
NEW SPEAKER: So you created a many website.
FROM THE FLOOR: Just for the client to see the progress.
TOM CHUTE: That’s definitely—
FROM THE FLOOR: One point of call really.
TOM CHUTE: With WordPress, it’s got comments, it’s got the blogs, everything you need for communication, why not create a subdomain or set that they can use, it’s got all the stuff built in, yeah, definitely agree with that.
THE CHAIR: Another one just there, Kim over there, down from Leeds for the day.
FROM THE FLOOR: Define your perfect client.
TOM CHUTE: If we are being open, honest, communicating that what I expect from my clients, if we get those basic principles down then you are on the steady footing, the client then understands your business as well — so, you know, I talked a lot about us trying to understand the client’s business and getting all the background we can and doing the due diligence, if the client has done that about us, they know how we work, we get the ways of working agreed, they understand that we have got a business that we need to run to and we have got to make money, that’s a pretty good client.
THE CHAIR: I kind of do this too, I’m loving this talk it’s great, the kind of — I get the phrase, “Trusted partner”, it comes up a lot when we start a relationship with a client as well, there is a sort of two-way street to that, trust is the bit we talked about as well, the idea of partnership with a client is a really important one as well, I don’t know, do you…
TOM CHUTE: Definitely.
THE CHAIR: Do you have ways to sort of get to that, you touched on your discovery bit as well.
TOM CHUTE: So continue discovering, you build trust by being honest, open, soon as the client thinks you are being dishonest or you are hiding stuff, built a wall between your team and theirs, who wants to be in a relationship like that, so yeah, continuing discovery is a really important thing, not just doing one project but working with them to continue to find out more about them and their business.
THE CHAIR: Another question down here, from the floor, then one over at the end of the aisle as well the other side, at the back.
FROM THE FLOOR: Dow do you manage the client who wants a website, now it’s immediate, got to have it and you design the website and they insist on providing the content, and they don’t? You know you are almost finished you don’t have any images, no content, blogs, they have got to have their website, now.
TOM CHUTE: If there is someone in the room who has had the problem, I’d be surprised it’s getting the Risk Register at the beginning, we know it’s a tight deadline in order to get this to go live in the schedule of work say, “If you don’t provide the content the site will not go live”, so there is nothing they can do to come back to you and say the site isn’t going live if they haven’t done their side of the deal and it’s clearly articulated that beginning of the project, in the ways of working, discovery sessions, highlight it there and make sure that they stick to it, if it’s not it’s not your fault.
THE CHAIR: It’s the roles and responsibility piece, designing the team, when we talk with the client and sit down, what we are doing, we are not necessarily describing a service we are providing to them, we are working up a definition of a team that include them, once that goes along if you have communication at the right level and build up that trust, typically a good client that is engaged with that, will, will realise the part that they play in that, communication is sometimes about making them aware of that context, as much as it is about answering a specific question, it’s, you know, don’t, that is sometimes, that’s slightly spammy, that over-communicating bit, don’t overdo it, just give it enough so they get to hear the hum of the factory floor and get to hear the drum beat, drum beat and the pace of a project is something you have to work on. It’s rare, I think, that people work on-site with clients, you tend to be working remotely, if you are onset with a client you can get that drum beat and get the feel for the team quite easily. If the remote, took like Slack come in, it keeps the pace and lets people know things are going along all the time, it’s a balancing act, but it’s part of it. Sorry, it’s your talk.
TOM CHUTE: You do a lot of client stuff as well so …
ANT MILLER: We have got one over there.
FROM THE FLOOR: When you start working with a new client how do you know how much support they are going to need, how many updates and what do you do if you have not allowed that in your budget, so you’re building that site for them and then they need a lot more support, than you have allowed for time wise?
TOM CHUTE: That’s a really good question because that often happens but I think what you can do is avoid getting dazzled by a big project and say can we take a small byte at the beginning, just have a calibration period, get to know the client a little bit, maybe do a couple of sprints of work, then that’s all we will agree to at this stage then assess how much communication you need and how much feedback rounds you need. But taking it not being afraid to take a bite knowing it will lead to something bigger, allow a month or two for calibration it’s challenging.
ANT MILLER: The client that ‘growed’ like Topsy. We just want a thing then two years later then this thing you just wanted, takes a team of 5 to keep lights on. That’s it. Keeping clear assumptions I think is worthwhile doing. You always make assumptions at the start of a project, those are well worth documenting, certainly putting in front of the client but even put in front of yourself. You could be 18 months down the road and go you have just lost track, where did the assumptions I had about the amount of support this was going to need, come from at the beginning we were talking about one site, it’s a multi-site network got some static page generation and this bizarre integration to a command line thing that runs on a VT300 terminal,.
TOM CHUTE: Those assumptions should be documented and not he down way in e-mails, have a got a place to put it.
ANT MILLER: Email is the worse place. Just because something is an email it’s good for some things, it’s that it’s like knocking on the door and serving, here’s the thing I need to give you but a week later you won’t be able to find it. There are some tools which are better and worse than that I have fallen out of love with Basecamp for finding stuff, it last about 6 months but beyond that it’s not good for finding stuff.
I really need to stop talking, we had another question I think over towards the back as well. One there and there’s one there. Ok. Then we’ll take another one over there.
FROM THE FLOOR: Hi, so you have done all the best practice, followed all those very excellent rules, you have got a really lovely relationship with your client, and you have built a website that is really gone the extra mile. Then, maybe, three, four five months later the first you find out that something may not be quite so nice, is that you get a call from a developer who has instructions to take over the site, the maintenance and move the hosting. How do you deal with that? I always suspect a hidden agenda but how do you find out?
TOM CHUTE: Yeah that’s a really tricky one. I guess if at that point, it’s maybe too late. They have, you have not communicated enough post go live to check in with them, you have not had a retrospective of how the project went because hopefully if you had a chance to get negative views and stuff that has not gone well out you can look at ways to improve that, because if they have got another developer that means they have got more money to spend on the website if you can’t work out a way after a retrospective to use that money for good, yeah unfortunately it’s a bit too late once they have developer in, my goal is always even if they have got another developer just got an speak to someone and just see why. You might not lose that bit of work they might have something in the future because you go and have a chat the them we’re really sorry we did drop the ball there can we stay in touch, have you got some more work down the line we would love to show you that we can deliver again.
ANT MILLER: It’s not always a bad thing, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, so it’s not great but maybe you did the work, maybe you did the build and they want someone to just to seep the needles wagging, to keep the wheels turning. Maybe you build a bit more because you can do the awesome design bit and really get value and somebody else comes in. At that stage you have still got a job of work to do, you can still make a really good impression now you have got an opportunity to make a good impression to two people. You do that transition really well, to this next person who’s coming in they go, wow they were awesome people to deal with. What a brilliant place. Next time I have got something that I need to do, I am going to ask them for help. If they are on up and coming and just able to do a little bit less technical stuff than you do, they need to know a good Big Brother partner, big sister partner. Someone who can help then I other firms. They can be another lead generation for you as well. The client for whom you do a good hand over and help them transition their site to another thing, you are showing that you understood their business. You are showing that you understand they want to get a different sort of value and need to make a different level of investment to support their thing, so that builds more trust as well. It’s a door closing but leaving two others slightly ajar. That’s how I look at it as an account manager. Yep?
FROM THE FLOOR: Great talk really enjoyed it.
TOM CHUTE: Thank you.
FROM THE FLOOR: Just a quick question in terms of stakeholder management, I have had it a couple of times on projects where maybe the day-to-day contact might leave or the marketing manager might leave during the period, I just didn’t know if you had any techniques or suggestions on how to manage that process?
TOM CHUTE: That’s, that can really screw up a project if that happens. Again, going back to there’s a technique we use called pre-more mortem, you act as if the project as tied, you get the people involved in the project into a room and say what are all the situation that could happen that could take this project off the tracks. That is one of them. If this person leaves, that’s the main contact, what is our back up plan by again bringing it up to fore of the project having that chat then you can say if that person leaves who will step in. If that happens we may need to revisit the scope of work we might need to train that person up, we might need, just building it in at the beginning of the project and then making sure you have got mitigation if it happens around training and on boarding and make sure your deadlines are not tied to a fixed scope if that person does leave.
FROM THE FLOOR: I have just a question like on a couple of the last weeks I start to work with other I freelancers I have too much work I have to give work to other people. At the beginning I start to communicate that to my customers, they were really like oh I don’t know I want to work with you, I don’t want to work with other people because I got recommended to them, other were like oh is it cheaper. I really want to. Transparent with that but I am really struggle with this point. Also, I don’t know how to communicate for example if there’s a delay in the work from the other freelancer so I can’t hit a deadline, so do you, how do you work with that.
TOM CHUTE: You have got to bring some more people on to a project you are asking how to communicate that to client is that?
NEW SPEAKER: Sorry what?
TOM CHUTE: You have got to bring come more people on to a project you need some extra resource you are wondering how to communicate that to a client.
FROM THE FLOOR: When I am creating a website specific parts I give to other people it just has to be done, don’t has to be like a specific skill, and then I take over and I communicate that because I want to be transparent with the login for example, all the starter stuff, and always like I don’t know if I really want that, and there’s like well I can’t hit the deadline if can’t give to it other people because I am too busy.
TOM CHUTE: So it’s just be transparent, I would if you have got more people coming on to a project because it will make the project ultimately succeed, that’s a good thing for the client, it’s not necessarily a great news it will be a delay, but you have goat good reason for it so there’s no reason not to. Transparent I don’t think.
ANT MILLER: That transition from being like the sole freelancer on something to be part of a team of freelancers is a real phase change. It’s a change in the structure of trust. Because you’re then moving away from one person, 1 individual, you know me I know European Union trust me I trust you, you know, as a freelancer you often get to point where you can almost subliminally know in any situation how the other person in that relationship will behave when the shit hits the fan are they going to duck or stand in the way catch it and deal with it. When you go with sharing that out months other people, you, I don’t think that you are becoming an account manager essentially you have to take on that management of trust. You have got options in as much transparency and how much direct communication the other people have, you can either be a person who acts as a gatekeeper and takes on the project management of the whole thing or more like a shepherd, just managing a group of people who all have direct communications. Bother of them have a lot of communication load, I think you have to accept you will have to, there will be less time building stuff, and more time talking about stuff and accept that. Know that that is an investment that will deliver value, and make sure the client realises that as well. I think the nightmare is when you all of sudden a client goes man you just don’t build anything for me anymore you are just talking about stuff, they have to know that that a bigger team needs more talking. And there’s over heat associated. Even as an agency, we bring on freelancers as well, it’s a little bit different in an agency you bring freelancers because you just extended your team have a got an existing model. That change. As well. An interesting model for this is Dan Mall’s SuperFriendly model, they are pretty high end UX consultants they are all freelancers, he puts together a team of pop-up freelancers, if you have a look at what the SuperFriendly guys do. He did have a podcast until a couple of years ago that’s worth looking at for. I have done it again haven’t I sorry. (laughter) ladies and gentlemen, Tom Chute who knows much more about this than I do I apologise for interrupting. (applause).
Catch Tom round and about, there’s quite a lot of pragmatic, pragmatists around, catch up with them over the weekend. We’ll be back in here, I have gone and closed my phone down, well the next session is kind of full on its defensive web development, it’s Heather Burns who will be looking at what web development and design and engagement with clients really means, in a world of very dynamically changing political context which could have real impact on all of us, and that will be starting in 20 minutes. So, hope to see a few of you back here in 20 minutes and hopefully a few new faces too.