Clients are notorious for biting off more than they can chew, and it’s done on purpose since they aren’t the ones doing the chewing.
It’s the developer/consultant’s job to chew and process client requirements into an application or resolution.
If you fail to offer the resolution they are looking for, they will continue to chew your head until you find a way to give them what they want because after all,
You are the all in one package who receives a lunch box shaped salary package that won’t even buy you a proper lunch.
There are, however few things that are forbidden.
To understand why they are forbidden, you have to understand what they are first.
So What Are They?
When dealing with software, there are obvious limitations to those who have invested a great deal of effort into studying and utilizing them, however you can’t sit there and expect the client to understand that the software is limited.
They don’t know enough to make informed judgements, and will assume that you are trying to pull wool over their eyes either because you aren’t competent enough to provide them with what they are looking for, or that you are fresh out from college, which will piss them off even more.
The software is NOT limited, it is you who is limited.
Here’s Something To Ponder Over
Bruce Lee once said that you have to empty your cup to fill it with water, but if it already has water, then why the hell are you wasting it?
That might sound like a silly question to ask, and that’s because it is.
Believe it or not, you will find yourself posing these sorts of questions to clients, and won’t even realize it. They are careless mistakes we make as rookies, but it happens every now and then, especially when you aren’t paying attention.
Imagine for a moment that you are collecting requirements for a web application and you ask, “So you want all of this hosted on the web, right?”
This is a nonsensical example, so let me tone it down a little and make it more realistic.
Say you work as a Salesforce Consultant.
Your job involves interacting with clients, understanding the process they wish to implement, their pain points and with everything taken into careful consideration, offer suitable end to end solutions. If you fail to offer the right solution, they will proceed to prick you with their pain points until you feel the same pain as they are.
Since you are a consultant, you will not only have special access privileges but also the expertise to manipulate the Salesforce application to create custom activities or workflows that could potentially help your clients.
Under no circumstance must you ask the client:
“You want me to configure this for you, right?”
As rookies, we might get confused or overwhelmed with the client’s description, which in turn short-circuits our thinking process.
Never ask that.
Here’s Another Way We Screw Up
Clients approach you not just with requirements, but also with an idea of what the solution ought to look like.
Yes, you read that correctly, there are times when clients unaware of the technical aspects of the product will approach you with requirements while also conjuring up an image of the output thinking that their “high level understanding” is all they need to form accurate depictions of the end result.
You of course, can’t point out the obvious, because their “high level understanding” makes them oblivious to the obvious.
My sarcasm can be a little over the top at times, but it’s nowhere as over the top as their “high level understanding”.
If the client says he wants “Agua Dulce” and you offer him “Fresh Water”, he will not be happy.
You have to find a way to translate that fresh water into Spanish before serving it to him, much like how I google translated “fresh water” into Spanish for that reference.
But say you aren’t able to perform the conversion, what then?
What if the client is stubborn and refuses to listen to what you have to say?
You have three options, one is to either get senior resources involved, the other is to convince the client by sending detailed mails with appropriate screenshots while keeping your leads in loop, and the last option is to use a combination of the last two options.
It’s your job to communicate shortcoming and potential showstoppers.
Simply stating “It’s not feasible” won’t cut it.
They will come at you with a,
“WHY THE HELL NOT?”
Even while explaining shortcomings, you have to be smart about it, and think about how whatever you have written so far or are about to detail will be interpreted by someone why isn’t aware of what you are.
Single line responses won’t cut it – you have to be sharp and provide detailed responses that make the light bulb go on in their head, or they will assume you are a dud.
They are paying good money for your services, and if you make it look like they’ve made a bad investment, they will make you look like a bad investment to the company.
This is why it is best to get your leads involved early on, anytime the “high level understanding” entity becomes difficult to deal with.
All In All
Not all clients are reasonable.
There are clients out there who are so good at biting off more than they can chew, that they make the sharks jealous.
But then again, they have every right to demand as they are paying for the service. It’s our job to not only develop and provide solutions, but to also be circumspect in our dealings with them.
If you find yourself incapable of handing client(s) your own, try to get your leads involved as early as possible and learn from them.
They’ve had to deal with troublesome clients and know how to handle such situations.
What If My Lead Refuses To Step In?
Then you’re screwed.