5 Tips to Always Hit Client Deadlines

By | September 27, 2016
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Client deadlines. Two words that can make you break out in a sweat without proper planning. 

To paint a picture: it’s the first of the month and the to-dos keeping piling in. You sift through them one-by-one, but they never seem to end. It soon becomes difficult to imagine how you will accomplish each one by its respective deadline.

As you know, meeting client deadlines is a vital piece to agency operations, but getting there can be tricky—especially when juggling multiple accounts.

So how can you ensure deadlines are met, and team members and clients are satisfied?

Let’s look at some best practices for success. 

1. Centralize, Organize and Prioritize

Centralization, organization and prioritization are the backbone of meeting deadlines.

To keep a pulse on client campaigns, projects, tasks and deadlines, store all to-dos in a centralized project management system, such as Basecamp. With all your to-dos in one place, you can prioritize top projects daily, weekly and even monthly across the board.

2. Practice Clear Communication   

Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Always be transparent with your team members and client as to when projects can be and should be completed.

Work closely with you clients to set priorities—for example, if there are projects that should be tackled before others. When setting client deadlines, also work with your team to establish internal deadlines. Prior to setting deadline expectations for your clients, sit down with your account team and determine if members have the capacity to deliver in the expected timeframe. Never just assume the capacity exists.

If there are unforeseen setbacks, such as a delay in client feedback or illness of a coworker, connect with your team and client on how it impacts deadlines as early as possible.

3. Avoid Overpromising and Under Delivering

Overpromising and under delivering projects can test your client’s trust and overall competency of your account team, so try to avoid this at all costs.

Understand how long it takes you and your team to complete a specific task, and keep a pulse on efficiencies to improve time. For example, if it takes three hours on average to get a blog post out the door, don’t cut yourself short when planning for the month.

It’s always better to deliver projects early (when possible) than late. If you think it will take you three days to complete a project, consider setting your deadline at a week just to be safe. If you’re able to deliver a project early, it’s a win-win for both you and your client.

4. Be Flexible When Needed

Sometimes, meeting deadlines requires a bit of flexibility. For example, if a client has an immediate or more timely need, you may need to reevaluate and adjust lower-priority to-dos.

In addition, realize what factors are in your control. You may experience situations where deadlines need to be adjusted based on the client, technology issues or limited resources. But as stated earlier, remember to be transparent and communicate the change to your team and client to eliminate confusion and false expectations.  

5. Learn From Your Mistakes  

Let’s face it—no matter how hard you try, there will be times when deadlines are missed. If this happens, don’t automatically panic. Instead, sit down and evaluate what went wrong. Ask yourself questions, such as:

  • What prevented me from delivering this on time?
  • Were there external factors that prevented the deadline from being met?
  • Is this specific project consistently delivered late?
  • Was there a miscommunication between our team and the client? Was there a miscommunication between our team internally?
  • Did I under forecast the amount of time it would take to complete this project?
  • What steps can I take next time to ensure deadlines are met?  

Take missed deadlines as an opportunity to better your forecasting, communication and time management skills in the future.

How do you ensure all your client deadlines are met? Share with us in the comments section below. 

Image Source: SplitShire

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