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Rearranging Furniture for an Unfocused Client

Filed Under Human Factors

Moving Furniture

Unfocused clients can wreak havoc on your project primarily because they monopolize time attempting to figure out what they desire. Time spent giving professional advice is never wasted, but doomed projects will waste budget by allowing the client to manipulate details back and forth until all options are exhausted.

Have you ever been in this client meeting?

Week 1: “The blue is too blue”
Week 2: “This design is too spartan, plus I don’t like blue anymore.”
Week 3: “Too busy, and what happened to the blue design?”

Allowing unfocused clients to manipulate your time is like rearranging furniture in an unfinished house. Back and forth we move furniture around our houses, only to decide that we liked the original place setting the best. Software is no different, especially with unfocused clients. These clients will suffer from the software imprinting dilemma, permanently influenced by the first design but will feel the need to see different options until their curiosity is satisfied.

Indecisive clients will not start to have solid opinions until they realize their budget is at an end. Be quick to identify time being hijacked by an unfocused client and eliminate it. Explain to clients that these types of decisions are trivial (and is like rearranging furniture), but that core features need to take precedence.

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5 Responses to “Rearranging Furniture for an Unfocused Client”

  1. Laura on September 10th, 2007 2:15 pm

    You are SO right!

  2. the matt on September 11th, 2007 7:07 am

    and in a software product(s) company, sadly it’s the unfocused boss that can wreak this havoc! been there, twice, miserable.

    heya max – kudos on the blog, as well as the new gig!

  3. david on September 11th, 2007 12:53 pm

    This is great advice that I wish I’d heard a few years ago. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. devtrench on September 12th, 2007 8:39 am

    You speak the truth. I’ve found that the temperament of the client has a huge impact on scope creep and staying within budget. Great clients are ones that are decisive, go getters, know what they want done, and most importantly, don’t get distracted — they’re focused. Some red flags that I’ve come across over the years:

    * Client doesn’t look at you when they talk
    * Client only speaks in “what ifs”
    * When you get down to details, the client doesn’t know, or has to leave
    * When you show a client your software for the first time, they freak out
    * The client mulls over tiny details like fonts, colors, and other design features, but can never get you a feature list, or other crucial information you need.
    * Client talks about normal and obvious conventions in strange abstractions. This is a weak example, but I had a client talk about their DIDO database. DIDO is ‘data-in, data-out’ which all databases can do, but this client drooled over the acronym they made up.

    I could go on forever about client red flags…


  5. Max Pool on September 12th, 2007 12:14 pm

    @James –

    Wow! FANTASTIC ideas, I even learned some new poker calls with your comment…

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