Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The home stretch

If I know anything about the few days before a big deliverable, especially if its a launch or other important client meeting, its that something will inevitably go wrong (or at least not as you planned) and someone on the client-side will freak out. It doesn't matter how hard you work, it doesn't matter how much you plan. It doesn't matter if you've done everything before then right, bent over backwards, and stayed mum on scope changes. You just need to be ready for *something* to happen, whatever that may be.

Remember that you are the one who will be thrown under the bus, even if whatever it is wasn't your fault or was out of your control. Only really strong clients take responsibility for things that they miss--its so much easier to blame the vendor. You are disposable, can't defend yourself in their internal meetings, and if it ever comes down to you or them, its going to be you.

Even worse, some companies have really short organizational memories or don't enable you to build goodwill (sometimes due to turnover, sometimes just the personality of the company).

Which is why in the service business, you're only as good as your last project. And the home stretch is where you clinch it or blow it.

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