Cameroon – The Syndrome of Never Meeting Project Deadlines

I know many will think this post is for for public contractors in Cameroon who never meet deadlines for projects. It talks more on freelance technicians who are always looked upon in Cameroon as dishonest and never meeting project deadlines.

We face a lot of problems in Cameroon when it comes to the demands of a client. One of the most common problem is meeting project deadlines. This is very common with technicians – carpenters, plumbers, electronic repairers, etc. It is common to hear that these guys who offer such technical services in Cameroon are not trustworthy. Most often, they have these negative reviews because they rarely meet up with the deadline they give clients.

Everyone faces this problem – meeting project deadlines, even the most organized businesses. So it is not only small businesses or freelancers. This does not mean you should take things for granted. There are always ways for you to meet deadlines and get a great result without having problems with your clients. Below are some of the things those offering services can do to meet up deadlines.

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1. Get enough clarifications for the project

Before you come to a conclusion on what is to be done, you need to know what the client is expecting of you. It is very common for freelance technicians in Cameroon to accept a job without getting all specifics on what the client wants. This happens usually because they are afraid they may loose the job. They accept everything the client says without knowing the implications. Greed!

They most often fail to understand that clients may not even know what the technician needs as information for the work to be done well and on time. Some don’t even explain because they are afraid the client will be discouraged with the details. On the contrary, if you give them the details on what it takes to carry out your job well, they will be encourage to work with. It makes them understand you master your trade. Rather, you make them conclude about what they don’t know and you know best just because you are afraid of telling them the truth.

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Don’t only get instructions

Instead of you listening to instructions from them, you have to ask questions and tell them what can be achieved or not within the time frame. You may even have an unfinished work which you don’t have to abandon because of the new one. Because you don’t want to miss that opportunity, you decide to accept any condition without hesitating. The end result is that you abandon what you are doing in order to meet up with the new client’s demand. You end up not achieving all because of greed.

It is very necessary for you to not start until you get the specifics and explain to the client what it takes to carry out the project. Don’t forget to let your client know that you have other jobs to finish before starting. It is better to let the client go because you cannot meet the deadline than have problems with him/her later. It is will good for your business’ reputation and clients will want to stay because of your honesty.

What is required

After taking note of what the client wants, make sure you understand exactly what it takes to achieve it. If it is for a complicated project, make sure you analyze the requirements and break it down in order to identify what needs to be done and when to do it.

What you may not know is that the client would have taken into consideration the complexity of what needs to be done before setting a deadline. In the case where you see the client is ignorant, make sure you explain clearly what it takes to achieve the task on a specific deadline.

Everything should be put in writing

This is what technicians in Cameroon ignore a lot. In fact they will go as far as telling you that there is no need for a contract. On the contrary, a contract protects you the technician more. Once you are putting things in writing, you become more alert not make errors. A lot of business deals end at the police station because the details are not explained in a contract. It is usually verbal and before you even accept, you have already forgotten most of what was said.

Once you have everything necessary to carry out the job, make sure you put it in writing. Last month, I had a case like this which brought me a lot of trouble. It was a verbal contract to make furniture for a newly acquired apartment – beds, chairs and some fittings. We concluded without taking into consideration that it is the rainy season. Getting wood during the rainy season is not an easy task. Since we work outdoor, when it rains, we always have to stop work. This brought about a delay in meeting up with the deadline for some of the work.

To avoid such a situation, you can make a standard independent contractor agreement that you can use as a template for all your clients. This should outline details of what to be done which can be modified depending on the clients needs. You can even go to the extent of creating a project plan that outlines what is to be needed or done and how long it will take. I don’t need to tell you that you need to make sure the client confirms and signs off showing they understand what their role is in meeting the deadline. One thing you should not forget is for you to not make allowance for problems or report them when it occurs.

Always make allowance for problems

Projects may not always go as planned because some unforeseen problems can come up. It is very necessary for you to always think about potential problems. I told you about the problem I had with a client above. The mistake I made was I didn’t take into consideration potential problems like the weather, equipment failure and delay in the supply of materials needed for production. And these are the problems we faced that brought about the delay.

You need to consider these things in order to reduce the impact. There should always be a contingency plan like asking for a helping hand or even look for a backup in case you have a machine failure. In our case, it was difficult to get a helping hand because we didn’t plan for it beforehand. We had to spend more in order to get help leading to loss in business income. The worse case may happen if you don’t inform your clients of these problems that you didn’t plan for.

Reduce the damage caused by meeting project deadlines

There are times you are not even be faced with any shortcomings but may not meet up with deadlines. In such a case, you have to make every effort to limit the damage. You can’t kill yourself. It’s better you take your time and do a good job than hurry to finish and meet a deadline with something not worth what was expected of you.

Always keep your clients informed of the progress of their work. In this case, you need to highlight all issues that delay you and show them solutions or plans you have to take to sort them out. In such a situation, make sure you deal with the immediate problems quickly in order to meet a new deadline. When this happens, your clients will understand why you failed to delivered on time and may even help you.

NB: Don’t forget to take note of what didn’t go right in order not to led it repeat itself.

One of the biggest implications of not meeting project deadlines is a harm to your reputation. You may also have to face some financial penalties or spend more in order to calm down your client. However, whatever happens, you need to make sure you take the responsibility. Avoid making excuses and do whatever it takes to deliver to your client as soon as possible.

Was this post helpful? If yes, don’t hesitate to share with others who may need it. If you also need a standard contract agreement written for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. If you are in need of furniture or any work in wood, get in touch with us. Meanwhile you can also show us what you need and we customize to meet your space and needs. It is not just “what you see is what you get” (wysiwyg) but “what you see, you get better”.

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