12 Questions To Ask Your Clients Before and After a Project

Getting to know your client is an important part of determining if you’re a right fit for the project. Not Question only that, but you should always ask questions before-hand to compile information that you will later use to accurately design a website or logo for them. Wef you quote a client for a project without knowing what it truly entails, then you’re setting yourself up for the possibility of loosing valuable time and money.

Now we know that asking questions before you begin a project is vital, but what about after you’ve completed a project? Although this may seem somewhat insignificant it’s actually an important step to finalizing the completion and delivery of your project. Below you will find various questions that you can ask your client, even though you may not use every single question, make sure you select the ones you believe both you and your client will benefit the most from.

Questions to Ask Before You Begin a Project
Generally these questions are asked before you begin a project, however, you can also ask some of these mid-way through your project as well. Analyze your clients answers and get to work with the information you’ve put together.

1. What Does Your Organization Do and How Do You Do It?

This is an important question because it’s the first step towards getting to know your customer’s business structure. Wet will help you assess the company’s needs in terms of relative design, and it is also a gateway for strategic brainstorming.

2. What are your five biggest challenges?

Ask about the client’s overall challenges—beyond the immediate subject at hand. By getting a sense of the larger challenges facing your client, you can be prepared to offer insights and draw connections that the client might have missed.

3. What are your five biggest opportunities?

Find out what the client is truly excited about! Where are some interesting new growth areas for the client’s business? What are some new trends shaping the marketplace? What are some of the most compelling new developments that the client has in store?

4. What keeps you up at night?

Connect with the client’s challenges on a visceral level. What is it that keeps this client from getting a good night’s sleep? What are the “worst-case scenarios” that this client might be confronting? If you phrase the question in these stark terms, you might help prompt the client to answer with greater candor and specificity, allowing you to help your client focus in on the biggest problem areas.

5. What is Your Typical Customer Like?

This question will help you get a better idea of what the company comprises of. Wes the typical customer foreign to the market your client targets? How does the client interact with its customers? Does the typical customer speak a different language? These questions are vital to the aesthetics and/or usability of your design. Wef you were designing a logo for example, and your clients typical customer doesn’t speak your clients language, then you would have to make sure the logo is able to communicate effectively on a further level.

6. What Is Your Target Audience?

Different from what the typical customer is like, you must have a deep understanding of what audience your client is currently trying to target. Maybe their trying to steer away from their typical clients and move into a different niche, or your client is looking to redefine and expand their customer base, whether one or the other it doesn’t matter, knowing exactly what audience your client is aiming to target is key to the development and success of your design.

7. Do You Have Any Competitors, if so, How Do You Differ?

Although this may have an obvious answer (if you’ve done a fair amount of research) you should still ask this question to get a feel of what THE Client believes is their competition. More than likely they have a much better idea of who their competing with. Knowing your clients competitors will allow you to rule out any similarities between all of their existent designs. This will help you create a more unique and centric design for your client.

8. How Often Would You Like Me to Update You With Progress?

You don’t want to come off as annoying or dependent of your client for your every move. This question will help you align with your clients wants and update them only when they want to be updated. Excessive updates can easily discourage a client from using your services in the future.

9. How Do You Envision the Finished Project?

If you’re designing a website then it’s important to ask your client what THEY intend to use their website for, and how they envision it will look like. What good would it do if you were to complete a project only to find out it doesn’t do any of the things your client intended for it, or it doesn’t behave the way your client had thought it would?

Questions to Ask After a Project’s Complete
These questions can be asked right before your deliver your project, or immediately after it’s complete. The purpose of the following questions to make the transition from the beginning of the project to its completion as smooth as possible.

10. How Satisfied Are You With the Results?

This question will help you analyze the quality of your skills and how well you’re able to develop a design based on what your client needs. As you advance in your career, you’ll have plenty of chance to improve your skills, this question will create a chance for you do just that.

11. Do You Plan on Having Any Revisions and Updates Done to This Project?

Ask this question to avoid frustrations that can easily arise if a client believes they can abuse of you by excessively asking for changes and further revisions free of charge. Wef your client plans on having you heavily revise and make several changes to a project, then this question will allow you both to agree on a reasonable fee you may collect for additional services.

12. How Well Would You Rate Our Services?

Similar to the question asking your client how satisfied they are with the results, this question will allow you to assess and improve the quality of your services. This plays an important role in the succession of your business.

How to Avoid the Seven Deadly Project Management Sins

Project management planning relies on the proper
communication of ideas as well as the give and take in vetting those ideas
among the creative team you’ve assembled to tackle the project. Standing at the
helm of this team, the project manager has the power to bring the project down
by turning the ideas and team against one another, or leverage it by using a
few guidelines that might seem elementary, but are often forgotten in the fray
of project management scenarios.

1)  Drill
Down on Specifics:
Make clear to your team what is expected of thSeven-sins-of-pmem. You
might want to save time by dolling out the minimum of information for them to
work on, but they’re not mind readers. Just because they’re on the same team
doesn’t mean they inherently know what’s going on in every scenario. Take the
time to fully inform each team member of all the details they’ll need to add to
the project.

2)  Respect
Your Team:
Spirited projected management meetings can get intense, but
always respect the opinions of those on your team and use a tone that conveys a
sense of acceptance to the ideas that are being tossed around. Sarcasm has no
place in the project management planning process, nor do rude, condescending or
threatening behaviors.

3)  Embrace
Great ideas are born out of a necessity to defend one’s position.
Sometimes the best idea is the only one that is offered and it’s a total
failure. Empower the team to come up with original ideas that might defy
convention. This doesn’t mean good ideas need a counterbalance, but never
stifle an idea because it challenges your favorite solution.

4)  The
Process Isn’t Everything:
Rules are meant to be broken. The project
management outline is an important piece of the puzzle, but don’t let the
outline dictate the outcome if the positive flow of the process begins to drift
outside of what was originally intended. Often times, the project management
team feels secondary to the process. Don’t forget that it’s the team that
delivers the goods, not the strictly structured outline of the process.

5)  Vote
Early. Vote Often:
What’s true in crooked elections is true in successful
project management planning. Each task the team embarks upon needs to be
analyzed and tested to see if they’re actually making an impact. Testing will
provide the systematic alert system that will raise the red flag when something
is going south.

6)  Helicopter
Bosses are a Distraction:
We’ve all heard about helicopter parents who
hover, watch, listen, and swoop in the take control of a situation, thus
micromanaging every process of their children’s life. This happens too often in
project management. The project manager needs to lead, not wait for a train
wreck to clean up after. In some cases, the project manager can actually cause
the wreck when they suddenly become a working “member” of the group without
having spent the hours in the trenches with them.

7)   Focus on
the Positive:
Don’t be a downer; you’ll sink the team. Acknowledge the
failures but don’t dwell on them. Reward the behaviors that you see as
desirable instead of harping on the negative. This type of behavior has a “pay
it forward” effect and can infect the team.

Remember, it is possible to create, facilitate and support a project management
environment without conflict, but the tone must be set from the top down. If
you make professionalism and success your priority in the strategy you create,
adjusting as needed, you’re bound to enjoy more profitable operations.


Zen Leadership

If you master Zen you’ll be a great leader. But if you study Zen just to become a great leader you’ll never master it. – August TurakZen

The practice of Zen in both business and daily life is centered on the paradoxical acceptance above. As instinctually conflicting as it may seem, to truly be a great leader you must release yourself of your innate desire to lead. We no longer live in a world where the business model of leadership is intimidation, and seeing oneself as the all-controlling dictator will only lead to failing performances of your employees. Demands and thre

ats only create fear and sub-par work. If someone is only concerned about being ‘adequate’ enough to maintain their position, then they will never have those singular breakthroughs that occur when they are genuinely interested in the success of the business.

Now this doesn’t mean you have to brew up some green tea and roll out the yoga mats though. Zen leadership simply means that the success and well-being of the entire team has to come before your own personal needs. Experiential wisdom should be the driving force in your organization’s growth, rather than a focus on theoretical knowledge and pre-formulated business models. You need to be willing to grow, adapt, and expand right along with your staff. Here are the 10 Keys to Zen Leadership that will help reveal the potential Steve Jobs inside us all.

1) Lead by Example

– Make sure that you personally are living up to the same expectations you have in others. If you insist on punctuality and enthusiasm, then you too need to be on-time and excited in order for others to live up to your requests. No matter how loud you may talk, people will always be more apt to do as you do then as you say.

2) Communicate Clearly

– You want everybody on board to have the same vision of objectives and success that you do. If Bill Lumberg taught us anything in Office Space, it’s that silence will get you nowhere. On the flip-side, you also don’t want to over-complicate things with too much information. Be clear and as simple as possible. Honesty is essential, as you don’t want anyone to think you are trying to manipulate them in any way.

3) Encourage Constructive Argument

– Allow for open debate and questioning within your personnel. Not only does vocalized disagreement lead to potential problems being resolved before they happen, but it also alleviates any potential angst between co-workers. People should feel free and willing to discuss issues with one another.

4) Accept Input and Welcome Change

– It should be as easy as possible for persons to give you feedback – both personal and business related. You should have an open channel for any and all comments, and you can not have any fear in potentially revising your vision. The best idea you haven’t thought of may come from the most unexpected employee, and they should not be deterred in any way from expressing their concept. Always believe in the potentiality of someone coming up with a better or more-efficient plan.

5) Give Credit and Acknowledge Others

– Never let anyone doubt that they aren’t an essential member of the team. Acknowledging everyone’s addition to the project, no matter how menial the task, will only improve enthusiasm and work-output from all angles. Do this throughout the course of a project, not just at completion. If praise is lavished upon you, then redirect it to people for whom the credit is actually do. Show pride in your team, while remembering there is no shame in being overly humble.

6) Review and Adjust – Don’t Rank and Punish

– If a goal wasn’t met, then figure out what errors occurred and how they can be resolved. Punishing someone for mistakes will only make them fear thinking out of the box again. Finding the problem and making the necessary adjustments will not only prevent a repeat of the error, but will promote further expansion of new ideas.

7) Have a Clear Vision of Defeat

– Make sure to have a clear understanding of what the warning signs are for a potential disaster. Rather then deny any occurring down-slope, recognize any happening failures before they completely fall apart. Don’t be afraid to start again from the beginning.

8) Be Willing To Adapt

– Feel no necessary commitment to previous business models. Evolution is constant and more rapid than ever – feeling that you need to stick with only one game-plan will result in you losing out to newer and upgraded networks. If there’s an easier way to do something, don’t be afraid to embrace it. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Don’t make things more complex than they need to be.

9) Relinquish Power

Your goal as a Zen leader is to enable your team to operate successfully without you. Levels of trust should be utilized for maximum output from your employees. You should feel secure in your people’s abilities, and be confident enough to delegate more responsibility once they are prepared. An appreciation for worker’s efforts will make them want to live up to the confidence you hold in them, and subsequently create a desire within them to do as much as they can for the team.

10) The Zen Leader is In All of Us

– Forget the notion of being a ‘natural born’ leader. The true Zen leader can arise from any and all of us. When leading through Zen, you are not controlling a group of people but rather uniting a group in a way that brings out the full potential of what their combined efforts may produce. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and the Zen leader has the delicate vision to know how to correctly add them up. The humble desire for the overall success of the greater good is the first and most important step. Once these notions are realized, the beneficial ramifications, both business and personal, are vast and expansive.

Thank You Letters

Thanks Writing a thank you letter is a common courtesy. There are various times when writing a thank you letter is appropriate – anything from a formal, post-interview thank you letter to a casual, from the heart thanks to the person you went above and beyond to make a project a success. Writing a thank you letter will always serve as a kind and conscientious gesture.

A thank you letter demonstrates thoughtfulness, which is a characteristic many employers and people value. Since so few take the time to write a thank you letter, someone who does will indeed be remembered. Your thank you letter does not need to be lengthy. Just a few kind words will show that you put some time and thought into your message.

Please click here for some free sample thank you letters covering a variety of situations.

Leadership for Those Who Remain

After layoffs it’s difficult yet important for managers to maintain high morale anJoined handsd productivity for the  remaining. Their collective head is
spinning with fear and anxiety that you need to replace with confidence. It’s important to:

  • Stress the fact that the layoffs were not a reflection of the performance of the staff who were laid off.
  • Be open and available  assist with reprioritizing and rebalancing workloads among the remaining staff.
  • Focus on addressing relevant employee concerns and how the company will move forward.
  • Keep the programs and initiatives that serve to align employees and provide a return on investment. Examples include celebrating success and the achievement of milestones at a company and individual level.

Read “On the case: Go team! Pretty please?” for ideas on how to boost employee morale after a series of layoffs.

Typing a Business Letter in Full Block Format


Full block format is used for formal business letters. This format is
characterized by the fact that every line starts at the left margin. None of
the lines of type are centered, or on the right. The only exception is in the
case of a pre-printed company letterhead. Full block format would be a great
format to use if you were to write a letter of resignation, a professional
thank you letter, a letter of recommendation, or perhaps resume a cover

is an explanation of each line in the letter:

  1. Return Address:  If your stationery has a
    letterhead, skip this. Otherwise, type your name, address and optionally,
    phone number. These days, it’s common to also include an  email address.
  2. Date: Type the date of your letter two to six lines
    below the letterhead. Three are standard. If there is no letterhead, type
    it where shown.
  3. Reference Line: If the recipient specifically requests
    information, such as a  job reference or invoice number, type it on one or
    two lines, immediately below the Date (2). If you’re replying to a
    letter, refer to it here. For example,
  • Re: Job # 625-01
  • Re: Your letter dated 1/1/200x.
  1. Inside Address: 
    Type the name and address of the person and/or company to whom you’re
    sending the letter, three to eight lines below the last component you
    typed. Four lines are standard. If you type an Attention Line (7),
    skip the person’s name here. Do the same on the envelope.
  2. Attention Line: Type
    the name of the person to whom you’re sending the letter. If you type the
    person’s name in the Inside Address (6), skip this. Do the same on
    the envelope.
  3. Salutation: Type the
    recipient’s name here. Type Mr. or Ms. [Last Name] to show respect, but
    don’t guess spelling or gender. Some common salutations are

    • Ladies:
    • Gentlemen:
    • Dear Sir:
    • Dear Sir or Madam:
    • Dear [Full Name]:
    • To Whom it May Concern:
  4. Subject Line: Type the
    gist of your letter in all uppercase characters, either flush left or
    centered. Be concise on one line. If you type a Reference Line (3),
    consider if you really need this line. While it’s not really necessary for
    most employment-related letters, examples are below.

  5. Body: Type two spaces
    between sentences. Keep it brief and to the point.
  6. Complimentary Close:
    What you type here depends on the tone and degree of formality. For

    • Respectfully yours (very formal)
    • Sincerely (typical, less formal)
    • Very truly yours (polite, neutral)
    • Cordially yours (friendly, informal)
  7. Signature Block: Leave
    four blank lines after the Complimentary Close (11) to sign your
    name. Sign your name exactly as you type it below your signature. Title is
    optional depending on relevancy and degree of formality. Examples are

    • John Doe, Manager
    • P. Smith
      Director, Technical Support
    • R. T. Jones – Sr. Field Engineer


  • Readability
    of a business letter body depends on the chosen font. The generally
    accepted font is Times New Roman, size 12, although other fonts such as
    Arial may be used.
  • Try
    to keep your letters to one page, if your letter
    requires more than
    one page all of the salutation and signature items would go on the second
    page at the end of the letter.
  • How
    many blank lines you add between lines that require more than one, depends
    on how much space is available on the page
  • The
    same goes for margins. One and one-half inch (108 points) for short
    letters and one inch (72 points) for longer letters are standard. If there
    is a letterhead, its position determines the top margin on page 1.
  • If
    you do not type one of the more for
    mal components, do not leave
    space for them. For example, if you do not type the Reference Line (3),
    Special Mailing Notations (4)
    and On-Arrival Notations (5),
    type the Inside Address (6) four lines below the Date (2).


Business Letter Templates

Viderity offers a large collection of business letters
written by business professionals to help you achieve your desired message when
writing business letters. The letters will give you and your company a
professional image.  View
our Business
Letters Kit

4 Tips for Writing Effective Emails

Being able to write effective emails is a crucial skill for project managers. Here are four tips to girl typing emailhelp you write emails that get the results you seek.


  1. Ask for something. All business writing includes a call to action. Before you
    write your email, know what you’re asking of your audience.
  2. Say it up front. Don’t bury the purpose of your email in the last paragraph.
    Include important information in the subject line and opening sentence
  3. Explain. Don’t assume your reader knows anything. Provide all
    pertinent background information and avoid elusive references.
  4. Tell them what you think. Don’t use the dreaded “Your thoughts?” without
    explaining your own. Express your opinion before asking your reader to do the

About ProjectPerfect


ProjectPerfect is an online journal devoted to sharing insights on project management activities, tools, and deliverables. The information presented is aimed at helping professionals make better decisions for their projects and their careers. ProjectPerfect is a companion publication to and is authored by Viderity Inc.


Viderity’s website offers project management templates that can help you work more efficiently and effectively. Viderity’s easy-to-use, fill-in-the-blank template format streamlines the creation of project documents and works with Word and Excel. With over 60 professionally designed templates based on proven industry best practices, Viderity offers the most comprehensive project management templates on the web.



Viderity Inc.

Viderity, headquartered in Washington, DC, U.S.A. is a leading e-media agency that focuses on the strategic application of information technology to successfully complete projects. As part of our practice, we create and sell electronic products including our premier project management templates that save professionals time and money and improve their results.


White House 2.0

Geeks U.S. President Barack Obama is placing IT and technology on the national stage. He relied heavily on the use of the Internet and social media tools like Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, and text messaging throughout his campaign.  And now he plans to appoint the country’s first chief technology officer (CTO), a cabinet-level position aimed directly on bringing technology in the public sector up to par with private industries.

There is a lot of speculation centered on who will fill the progressive position. Names supposedly on the shortlist include Shane Robinson of HP and Edward Felten of Princeton University.  Never has a U.S. president recognized the importance of IT and technological innovation like Obama. This is certain to be good for IT industry projects down the road. In fact, two of Obama’s three technology pillars on his website indicate increased project activity.

1. Barack Obama will protect the openness of the Internet:
Obama and Biden strongly support the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet.

2. Deploy a modern communications infrastructure:
Obama and Biden believe we can get true broadband to every community in America.

3. Improve America’s competitiveness:
Obama and Biden will ensure our goods and services are treated fairly in foreign markets, invest in the sciences, and will provide new research grants to the most outstanding early career researchers in the country.

Iterative vs. Fixed-priced Projects


For those of you familiar with a traditional project management process, you’re probably familiar with a usual project life cycle- plan, budget, design, develop, test and release, A.K.A. waterfall. This style of management can typically be found in fixed-price projects. You may be less familiar with the percentage of projects that utilize this management process, yet fail to stay within the project’s intended time line, budget and scope.

According to the “Chaos Report”, a project management research study on software development companies:

…35 percent of software projects started in 2006 can be categorized as successful, meaning they were completed on time, on budget and met user requirements. This is a marked improvement from the first, groundbreaking report in 1994 that labeled only 16.2 percent of projects as successful…

35 percent! Almost two out of every three software development or integration projects fail.

My experience with 2 project life cycles:

While there are 4 project life cycles adopted for software and web development, Viderity primarily works within the Waterfall (also known as Serial) and Iterative cycles. While all project life cycles have advantages and disadvantages, these two have been widely accepted and adopted by software, IT, and web companies.

Both were developed to manage project risks, but one is probably more suited than the other depending on the amount and type of risk involved in your project. To explain, let’s start by providing a brief overview of the Waterfall and Iterative life cycles.

The Waterfall Life Cycle

Using the Waterfall life cycle, your team is supposed to be able to first obtain every possible requirement (Project Planning and Strategy). Based on those requirements the team moves into design. Once everyone agrees on the “big picture”, the team starts developing or building. All pieces are developed, completed and integrated before testing begins.

Waterfall life cycles take longer because the team is tasked with predicting how much a project costs, how long it will take to implement features, and how quickly defects can be fixed – things that are inherently unpredictable.

Many business stakeholders prefer waterfall life cycles and fixed-price projects up front with a very high-level overview of features and services. It’s very reassuring to know exactly how much a project will cost before you spend any money on it. Small projects (e.g., basic websites that include static, brochure-type pages) flourish from this type of development process because there are less complex programming requirements. However, if your project is more complex (e.g., a website with advanced functionality such as e-commerce integration), I recommend using an iterative, incremental, life cycle. A waterfall approach on these types of projects may result in failure.

The Iterative Life Cycle

Viderity uses an iterative life cycle for projects that require more complex planning and development. The iterative life cycle looks a bit like the waterfall approach at the beginning of the project for the requirements and analysis phase, but uses monthly “sprints” through the remainder of the project. Sprints align and manage expectations by permitting the customer and project team to see working prototypes as they are created. Early review allows greater flexibility for development and testing so that the customer gets exactly what they want.

Instead of spending 2-3 months in low-level requirements gathering, and then building out all features and testing them before release, we recommend spending 2-4 weeks defining the feature sets, determining which features are most important to the customer, then developing, testing and releasing features in monthly sprints.

While the project’s time frame and price are not fixed at the start of the project, the intrinsic nature of developing this way has proven to reduce cost and increase the potential for success.

How iterative processes reduce risk

    • Product features are continuously analyzed and negotiated based on need, price, and timeline.
    • Project estimates are based on very small chunks
    • Business requirements are not written in stone and can be changed
    • There are rapid development and feedback cycles early in the project life cycle