LifeinAsia - 3:53 pm on Jun 16, 2010 (gmt 0)
I don't like to tell clients they have bad ideas. I'm afraid doing so will have them looking at me like I didn't do everything I could to make it succeed and THAT is why it failed.
I would rather do everything I can, and have the IDEA be the problem, not me.
That seems backwards to me. If you tell the client it's a good idea and then it doesn't work, then YOU look bad because it looks like YOU did a bad implementation of a good idea.
Personally (and professionally), I have little problem telling a client that something is a bad idea. I would much rather have them spend the money on a project that will give them a good return (and give them money for future projects) than go forward with something that's going to lose money and potentially have the fallout of driving a wedge into our professional relationship. I also feel that you have an ethical obligation to prevent your customer from wasting money on a project that won't work.
Numerous times we have told potential clients that what they want simply won't work. (Often it was because they wanted to build a site like Amazon for a few hundred dollars, but that's a different thread.) We had one long-term client who was dead set on adding a certain functionality to his site. We refused, saying that what he wanted to achieve was not possible with his limited investment. It looked like we were going to lose him over the issue. He went elsewhere for a second opinion. After he got a second opinion of what it would cost (and even then, still no guarantee that it would bring in more than a few dollars), he came back to us and thanked us for our honesty. Together, we instead invested the resources into other projects that are giving him a better ROI than the other project ever could have.
Sure, we are sometimes wrong about customers' ideas. That's why I don't come right out and tell them the idea is bad. I point out several flaws in their idea and ask how they will overcome them. In the end, they usually figure out on their own that the idea won't work. If the customer comes up with workarounds that I hadn't considered, then I can certainly be convinced to change my mind.