Handling deadlines is a bit of a balancing act. I do not fancy myself an acrobat so being organised is #1. Trust in your team’s ability and your client’s deliverability is what needs to be built; being professional, organised and above all, polite in the face of challenges is a task in itself.
Partnership of 1 to 1….
I have had many successful projects and the ones which worked the best were partnerships with one single point of contact, typically a CEO or a c-suite executive. This partnership has always been key as they strategically knew what they were looking for and more importantly, once presented with the options, the single point of contact was able to make quick decisions. This ability to consider vast issues and make decisions under tight deadlines is critical to the success of any multi-million dollar project.
Creating a plan
In the engineering world, this is called a programme. Map out all the major tasks and marry them to a timeline. The point of this exercise is to find conflict in both manpower and deadlines. Amend as you see fit and find solutions for the challenges ahead. One should be respectful that you are only a small facet of their everyday work. There are times in when you will need a senior executive’s eye will be needed to sense check issues. If you can map out what will be needed from them at what time, the expectation will be better set for both parties.
Flexibility can be built into your plan, but how does one handle unforeseen challenges without throwing the schedule back a few weeks? A sub contract falling through, a delay in the timeline, a critical member of the team takes leave…. Think strategically about the challenge: budget, timeliness, manpower, etc. How will this blip in the radar affect the bigger picture? Sit down and write out a plan on how to move forward. This segways into transparency. Change is the one thing which is certain, so be open about this. Clients are not interested in hearing about the challenges. They want solutions so provide them with succinct solutions to the issues at hand.
Your brand reputation is of great importance in the industry so do what you say and keep your promises. It is important to keep to your weekly deadlines and offer to report back to your clients on a bi-weekly basis. Every few months, offer to provide an update to the executive team in the form of a short report or a 10 minute PPT.
No one can be too organised, so get into the habit. Be honest to both yourself and your client in setting the expectations on the plan of attack. Face surprises head on and find solutions. Above all, finish well. May I raise a flute of champagne to everyone on the team….Salute!