Eating the Elephant Again… Dealing with Deadlines

Posted: September 1, 2015 in Thoughts on art ministry and life
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

elephantcookbookOops, I did it again. I signed up for a rather lengthy animated video project. If you notice this post is post-dated, that’s why. I have to be honest, this one is a lot harder than I imagined. I was anticipating less animation and more “motorized Power Point” on this one, but as I got into it, there was just so much more I could do with it. I decided to take the harder route that will produce a better end product. That being said, my deadline is out the window.

Now to be clear, there is a deadline and a drop dead deadline, and I am still well within the drop dead deadline, but the initial deadline passed just over a week ago. How do you deal with that? Here are a few things to consider.

  • Try to be in on the original setting of the deadline: I was in the meeting, and we set the deadline ahead of time. When we set the preliminary deadline, I was upfront with the client ahead of time. My speaking schedule has been really intense this year and I had just gained a new freelance client. I knew that going in and so did my client. These are people with whom I already have a great relationship, ad they knew I would try to make it, but that it would be difficult. Also did you notice the phrase preliminary deadline. This would be an arbitrarily set, “it would be nice to have it by this date, but no one will die if I don’t make it date.” Again I was upfront with the struggles that might come in meeting this deadline. If they had not been okay with that, I would have had to decline. Better to decline than to mess up the client. I like having the preliminary deadline because it gives me something to shoot for.
  • If you know you’re not going to make the deadline, make sure the client knows in advance: In this case, it was clear I was not going to get there and no amount of working harder would get me there. I was stretched to the limit. I told them about a week ahead that there was no way I could get done, but would make every effort to get it done as close to that as possible (and I am.)
  • Show your progress: This project has segments, so at the same time I sent the note saying I wasn’t going to make it, I sent them what I had finished so far, and they were pleased, which goes to the next point.

    Exceed expectations: I think it was easier to get past the deadline because I showed the client something that exceeded their expectations. They could see how much work was going into it. And the last one is key…

    NEVER, EVER, EVER, LEAVE YOUR CLIENT HANGING! DELIVER HE BEST YOU CAN IN THE TIME YOU HAVE! I am still a month ahead of when this project will be shown to it’s audience and I should finish the first draft tomorrow. If I didn’t think I could get done by that date, I would have said no to it. Once I said yes, only death will keep me from giving them a finished project ahead of their final deadline.

To be clear, I have a good relationship with this client and know what they like. If they had been people I didn’t know, I probably would have dropped my expectations, gave them just what they were expecting and delivered on time. You have to know who you’re dealing with and judge accordingly.

Relationships are a huge key in all of this. Deliver your best and never abuse the relationship.


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