Competition Vs Collaboration

I often hear statements which revolve around the same issue. Both clients and developers complain about the other.

Clients will say “our last developer was awful, unreachable and hard to work with”. Projects often begin with major concern over cost, and clients desperately seeking a fixed price. Clients are all too often caught in what feels like bait and switch. I can’t say I blame the clients, their feelings are most often justified.

From creatives I regularly hear tales of woe. This project has wicked scope creep, these clients are being “unreasonable”, or these endless edits are killing me. Here is where I take umbrage because this misguided ideology falls into that same category as “IE is a bad browser“. The real trouble lives beneath the surface, because this way of thinking uses bad excuses for poor technique, laziness or general ignorance.

“By becoming interested in the cause, we are less likely to dislike the effect”. – Dale Carnegie

Rather than waste time placing blame, why not explore the cause?

Techniques such as MoSCoW, The Unified Process, Agile Methodology and outcome based pricing all serve to eliminate the client Vs. developer cost battle.

Rather than view the respective parties as enemies, why not create a collaborative effort where both parties work together towards a common goal?

“A well aimed spear is worth three.” – Tad Williams

If there is a common pain point across all projects, then processes need to be revived and revised. If a particular client falls into a cycle that causes excessive cost or discomfort, a discussion needs to take place in order to understand why. Perhaps the inputs for a particular process are bad. Perhaps communication methods need to be adjusted.

Regardless of the stumbling block, it is the service provider’s responsibility for the ultimate success or failure of any project. Certainly each client or project has a unique set of difficulties. However, the client hired the service provider for their expertise, and the buck stops with them.

Embracing the challenges will only serve to better prepare you for the next project, the next client, the next pain point. Before long you will find you have a flawless process and a technique for every dilemma.

Most importantly remember that the client is not your enemy. Never place blame or dismiss their input, but rather remain open to the feedback. Working collaboratively with clients will always increase productivity, happiness, and profit.