You are expected to be very organized. Careful note-taking in all meetings is a must. Not taking notes in a meeting indicates lack of interest or lack of professionalism. Your ability to recall specific decisions and directions given at your meetings is mandatory to doing a good job. It is unprofessional to be late for meetings. It is a serious issue when you miss a meeting entirely. Usually the office will get a call from the client when that occurs. If you are running late – and it may very well be legitimate – please remember to send a quick e-mail or make a call from your mobile device to let someone know and ask that they distribute the status. When you are responsible for a meeting, always have an agenda and distribute it ahead of time whenever possible. You are a guest at the client site and your desk should be organized with files labeled that would help the client find anything in your absence. Do not keep anything in your desk you would not want the client to see. Your e-mail should be organized so that the client can easily see that you are able to find anything.
Prioritizing and estimating are two of the most important skills a professional can possess. These skills relate directly to time management and how others perceive your abilities and productivity. These skills are as important as any of your technical skills. Organization and communication are key in order to effectively and efficiently complete tasks. Sometimes, we lose our focus and get busy on the distraction and noise surrounding us at work and wonder how time got away from us. It can seem like there just aren’t enough hours in a day.
If you are managing multiple tasks/projects simultaneously, the communication and documentation of your efforts is critical to management and project stakeholders. Your communication needs to be a combination of both verbal and written. Proper project status communication in written form is a must and can prevent misunderstandings from occurring between team members and your client.
Estimates are not blind guesses. It is a skill and is acquired through practice and experience. The important thing is to pick a technique and then stick to it. Through practice, accompanied by careful analysis of outcomes, your skill will grow. It is never best practices to tell your client you cannot estimate a task or project. At the same time it is never best practices to estimate without proper analysis – not even the smallest task.
A professional should never accept an assignment or request without asking the important reputation-saving question: “When do you expect this to be completed?” If your client tells you “I don’t know,” “Whenever,” or “I don’t care,” or gives a similar answer, you must respond with the date you will have the task complete. It is then necessary to follow up with an e-mail documenting the task and your estimation, and you would then also insert the task into your weekly status report.
See below for an example on how activity/deliverables should be tracked in your status report. Good, effective client managers really do appreciate having the information outlined this way and then you can be on top of your productivity as compared to expectations. No surprises!