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Dos & Don’ts of Working With a New Client


Thomas Lehman



You’ve started a new project with a client and want to come off the starting block as strong as you can. You want to make the best first (and second / third) impression that you can. What is it that makes the difference between someone who works for the client, and someone who really delivers for the client? Let’s go over some good dos and don’ts for delivering the best end result to this new client, because good results are what drives repeat business, future opportunities, and most importantly a satisfied client.

  • Do Get to know your people
    • Meet and build a rapport with the people you will be interacting with and reporting to daily.
  • Do  Understand the environment you’re working with
    • Explore deeply. Start some Q&A sessions with your site team to understand the major details, such as what software they are using, what security they have implemented, what tools they are (or aren’t) using for basic administration.
  • Do  Work to understand their process
    • Every client is different. Some like to limit their access to all but a select few. Some prefer to allow complete ownership to the administrators. Very quickly into a project with a client you’ll need to understand how critical changes to their environments are documented, planned, and implemented according to their standards.
  • Don’t  Do your own thing
    • Everyone has a process they think is the best. That doesn’t always mesh well with the people you’re working for. Every company has its own way of operating and managing its software. It’s your job to work within those parameters.
  • Do  Be proactive and aggressive toward your on-boarding
    • The first day or two often is all about getting your equipment, access, and hardware set up appropriately. Don’t idle on this. This is the first “task” that you’ll have, and as a result it can set the tone for how the clients perceive you in the future.
  • Do  Ask what the main problem points are for your client
    • What issues have they been having that you can address? How can you make the most impact right from the start? You’re here to make their infrastructure better. Their software may not be running optimally, their practices may not be industry or application “best practices,” or they may be having long outstanding error’s that they’ve just been living with.
  • Do Learn about the their company
    • What is the overall business model of your client company? What do they do? Narrow the scope down more. What is it that your area of the company is doing? The more you know about their goals the better you can help to achieve them.
  • Don’t  Do the bare minimum
    • Your job may be as an administrator to just keep things up and running and fix any issues that sneak up along the way. Doing so will get you through your contract goals with no issues, but it won’t create the kind of stellar reviews and positive thoughts that you want people to have when you finish. Just like staying in someone else’s house, you should try to leave it better than you found it.
  • Do  Find a few experts, inside or outside your company, who can help you.
    • No one knows how to fix everything. Having someone to turn to and problem-solve with can make all the difference. It’s imperative that you understand who can help you work through these problems, and who is the best person to turn to given the types of technologies you’re working with.
  • Do  Be transparent as to what you’re working with.
    • Whoever your immediate manager is at the site, s/he should never have any ambiguity as to what you’re doing. Regular updates with clear but succinct details can turn a vague idea of what you’re working on into a positive topic of interest with your clients.