How to Deal with Client Demands that Mess Up Your Workflow

Your clients are the reason that your project management is flowing.

They are the bloodline of your business. But, more often than you want to, they get into your nerves. They demand stuff that is out of the contract, unreasonable, or simply out of this world!

Thankfully, you don’t have to lose your sanity to keep your clients. You don’t have to do all of their requests either. In the end, the client will thank you for not giving-in into their crazy requests. Just look at this design disaster which happened to a Japanese noodle company when the designer said yes to all of the client’s demands.

This was the designer’s first draft.

But apparently, the client pretends to be an expert in design so more demands are made.

Until the demands went out of control…

Presenting, the final product- this is how your project will turn out if you say yes to the client all the time even if they’re completely cracked.

You can get through these chaotic client requests with win-win solutions through effective project management. Here are some tips to keep you sane while addressing your beloved but not so likable clients.

1. Technically set yourself up
Make sure your ship is in tip-top shape before the storm hits! Do I hear an aye aye captain? You’re setting yourself up for a disaster if your company is already in chaos before more craziness comes in.

If you have all your systems in place, it’ll be easier to regain composure no matter how crazy the demand of your client will be. You have two things to set up; the system and the person.

Your system is like a conveyor belt, every step ensures that a perfect product will come out. The person you assign will serve as the account manager. Choose someone who can be calm (or pretend to be) even during surprise requests from clients. She or he has to be credible because every request will be funneled to him or her.

2. Categorize the request
You have to clarify if the request makes sense. Because, sometimes, we don’t know what kind of sorcery comes into clients’ minds that they make insane wishes. Just look at the advertisement of the cup noodle above!

Next, if you have decided that the request makes sense, ensure that it is part of your scope. This is one of the reasons why project managers lose profit. They end up doing stuff that they aren’t supposed to be doing in the first place!

If the request is not in your contract, you have to decide if you want to do it just because you want to impress your client. If not, talk to your client to modify the scope and adjust the budget accordingly.

3. Watch your timeline
Be realistic about your team’s capacity. Don’t forget that you only have twenty-four hours, and those hours are not made for work alone. You, your teammates, and your employees are not superheroes.
Be outright in telling your client if deadlines are unrealistic. Most deadlines are flexible, don’t be afraid to negotiate.

4. Speak straightforwardly
No need for sugar coating here honey. You’ve already gained your client, so stop the sweet talk. What you need is to be able to communicate honestly and effectively so that you can help your client reach their goals.

Some of the client’s request may not be helping them to reach their goals. Whatever their reason is for making outlandish wishes, it is your job to make them see the bigger picture. Insist on what you know. They hired you for your expertise because you know better. So hold your ground, they’ll thank you for it in the end.

Conclusion:
Clients are not always right. If they are, they wouldn’t need your help! Be kind but firm when a client tries to mess up with your project management workflow. Your client is not trying to make you crazy. He or she may just be misguided or overwhelmed. You both want the same thing, a successful project, so work together to make it happen.

The next time a client makes an out of this world request, remember the following:
Ø Technically set yourself up
Ø Categorize the request
Ø Watch your timeline
Ø Speak straightforwardly

Originally Published on Scale Time.