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Communicating with Clients

Managing project details

     
8:27 pm on May 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

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How do you manage and track communications with your clients?

I'm looking at using an online project collaboration tool that includes to do lists, task managements, project milestones, scheduling and time tracking, and it has nice granular permissions.

Unfortunately, it doesn't sync with Outlook, which I'd really like as I could keep my puter, my axim and the client interface all updated without wasting my time making duplicate entries.

Ideally, I'd love a solution that I could install on my website, but haven't found anything workable yet.

If I recall correctly, Moodle might do what I want, but installing an entire cms seems like overkill to me.

How do you all handle this?

8:34 am on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

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>How do you manage and track communications with your clients?

>Ideally, I'd love a solution that I could install on my website, but haven't found anything workable yet.

This is a good topic! It is critically important to success.

Often the client will move the "goal-posts" and the web designer needs to move the budget/price/costs accordingly. Without a good tracking tool it can become a game of he said/she said and a major issue to resolve.

My solution was to purchase the development rights to a web-based "ticket" messaging support system. Then modify it to my own needs.

I force the client to communicate via that system so that there is a paper trail. The client will always prefer the phone, you have to stamp that out. If it isn't in the system it doesn't count has to be the rule ;)

9:38 am on May 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I'd say don't overcomplicate things: nothing wrong with having a folder (hardcopy) for each client.

I can see how tools like the one you discuss can help with groupworking, but if you're working by yourself then I don't really see the need.

paper trail

Right - make sure you get change requests in particular down on paper. And charge for them.

hth, a.

9:31 pm on May 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Some of my work is more collaborative in nature, which is why I'm looking into different options.

I want a simple way to track due dates and send reminders without having to send repeated emails.

Guess I'm looking for a more elegant solution that combines everything into one place, as opposed to my current structure which involves a pocket pc, spreadsheets, databases, email reference folders, paper folders and many, many little pieces of notepaper all over my desk.

Just don't like it when my organization systems stop being efficient. Kinda defeats the whole point.

5:01 pm on May 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The client will always prefer the phone, you have to stamp that out.

Thats harsh! Speech is one of the most efficient ways of communicating, I wouldnt stop clients from using the phone. If a call involves a change in spec just get them into the habbit of following up with an email for you records.

IMO your better off using best-o-breed solutions for each task than some all in one solution. Outlook, Excel and a filesystem do just fine.

Moodle? This is for schools to manage learning and assessment records its not for project management :)

5:44 am on May 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

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>The client will always prefer the phone, you have to stamp that out.

>Thats harsh! Speech is one of the most efficient ways of communicating....

It is harsh, but, I still disagree.....Speech is typically one of the least efficient ways of communicating :(

The reason being that it is easy for a client to pick up the phone, dial your toll-free number, and then spend hours sharing their "latest thoughts" with you....none of which usually end up making any sense to them, let alone your design team!

So what did we achieve with speech....hours of endless garble that turned into nothing, after a while in this game, it turns into an added expense to the client!

Making them write it down, makes them think first. That leads to better efficiency, less wasted time all-around and a lower bill for them.....Everyone is happy :)

Traditional electronic tools, like email, are a suitable media for this process, but, if you want efficiency it is nice to have a ticket system that shows the history of any topic at one time, the response speed by the designer, and all the details involved "at-hand" for quick reference.

If phone communication is a good thing I wonder why a good Doctor won't take a call? A good Attorney will, but, you have to pay for the pleasure.....at least the Attorney charges far less for emails than phone calls....ergo, an electronic solution must be efficient for them ;)

I'm certain Brett could make a bundle out of selling a slightly modified version of BestBBS to satisfy the needs of Webmasters, and many other professionals who have to deal with client relationships of this type :)

2:03 am on May 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I found some open source project management software taht I could install on my website and it has excellent granular permissions, so that solved my problem.

;-)