Making the impossible possible

Of course, as far as clients are concerned, there really is no such thing as impossible.

It may be a standard joke between client and supplier that the deadline for the project you’ve just been briefed on was ‘yesterday’, but what do you do when the client is leaning on you to meet a deadline, which, in all honesty, appears impossible?

JFDI

Just Flippin’ (or words to that effect) Do It, in case you’re wondering.

But to JFDI, you need some pretty concrete stepping stones in place, a rickety bridge just won’t take the pressure, as well as that ‘can do’ attitude.

Here’s five simple steps to JFDI

1) Is it really impossible?
Probably not. Chances are you may have to pull in a few favours, work into the night and someone else will just have to cook dinner. Don’t be tempted to just say ‘yes’ when a client asks the ‘impossible’, make them understand time will be tight, you will have to put other projects and clients on the backburner and you will need to check your own suppliers can or are prepared to deliver. And, you don’t want to be in the position of having to crawl back to your client to confess their project won’t make the deadline after all despite your initial enthusiastic assurances.

2) Understand your client’s reasoning
It’s worth ascertaining the thought process behind your client’s deadline. Is the board applying the pressure? Does the deadline coincide with other projects or meetings? Are other projects dependent on this one delivering on time? Even if the deadline itself can’t be moved, you may find some leeway and it also helps your client to appreciate how hard you’re working on their behalf.

3) Make sure your client is completely on board
It is likely you will need to rely on your client to provide information or material, approve quotations and sign-off the project. Ensure they understand you can only deliver if they step up to the plate. Be clear: you can only meet the deadline if they provide what’s needed to make it happen.

4) Have a good supply chain in place
You’re only as good as your suppliers so make sure you have some good ones in place. Relationships which stretch back years and where mutual favours have been exchanged are the best ones when you need to pull out all the stops.

5) Maintain a continual flow of communication
Keeping your client completely in the picture not only keeps them in the loop but ensures the project remains in the forefront of their minds so any glitches can be quickly identified and tackled. It is also essential to be in contact with your suppliers (without being too overbearing) so likewise any issues can be quickly passed up the chain and resolved.

Whilst it’s not as simple as five consecutive steps – the likelihood is these will all be happening at once, but by covering all bases, the impossible is more likely to be possible.

The benefits of delivering the so-called impossible are numerous:-
* Your client will think you’re the bee’s knees
* Your reputation will be significantly enhanced
* Whilst you and your supplier’s relationship may have come under some strain as you both work to meet the deadline, ultimately you will emerge as a stronger unit
* There’s nothing quite like a challenge to focus the mind
* Once delivered, your client can hardly complain when your attention switches back to your other clients
* There’s nothing quite like the feeling of IJFDI (I Just Flippin’ Did It!)

Understandably, there is a concern that by delivering the ‘impossible’, the ‘impossible’ becomes the norm. There is only one solution: JFDI because if you don’t, there’s always someone else who will.

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