Umbrellas before clouds

"I'm Balloon Fighter" logo by Polygraph Studios

"I'm Balloon Fighter" logo by Polygraph Studios

So over the last few months I’ve been cautiously experimenting with putting in place processes to handle dealing with the routine tasks us deselopers have to handle on a regular basis. I’m not talking new tools, dope apps, or revolutionary sleep techniques, but simple client correspondence.

I would often find myself spending tens of hours on a weekly basis answering emails that didn’t need to be answered

Stuff like:

  1. Acknowledging new clients with new projects and work proposals.
  2. Acknowledging friends with new projects and work proposals (they’re very different).
  3. Issuing project appraisal or requisition documents.
  4. Issuing contracts and invoices.

It’s never a good sign when you’re issuing contracts that never get signed.

Problem

I would often find myself spending tens of hours on a weekly basis answering emails that didn’t need to be answered, humouring clients just to appear helpful and willing, and/or asking too many questions before I actually needed answers (turns new clients off). For many reasons – some beyond my control – many projects I was ploughing time into never materialised, which left me with lost time and no income to show for it. It’s never a good sign when you’re issuing contracts that never get signed.

Solution

Just like a well abstracted piece of code or a juicy class I streamlined these processes like some of the well established studios already do:

  • You can find my current Appraisal Sheet here (.pdf, 66KB).
  • You can find my current Assets Sheet here (.txt, 4KB).
Note

These documents are aimed at web-based projects, but you could adapt them for other kinds of projects.

Issuing these two documents, and receiving feedback early-on, irons out 5 (OK, 6) common issues:

  1. Eliminates hours of correspondence time for both parties in advance of any commissioned work (regardless of whether the project goes ahead or not).
  2. Shows me that the client has adequately considered the project – this works both ways (often there are other more suitable – existing – solutions).
  3. Is serious about the time commitments involved and can meet financial obligations.
  4. Is motivated to work together auspiciously.
  5. Allows me to quote time and costs more accurately and avoid ‘scope creep’.
  6. (On rare occasions deducing whether the client can actually communicate in the same language is always useful.)

The most useful and rewarding part is that all this takes me 5mins to issue, which leaves more time to read books, look after my existing clients, and be inspired.

I’d love to hear your productivity tips > ?

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