I think I overestimated how much I can do....Now what?
Thread poster: Sara Senft

Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Aug 20, 2008

So, I'm working on a project that's due at 0900 on August 20. It's starting to seem like I overestimated how much I can take on. What do I do? I only have about 11 hours before it's due.

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:22
English to French
+ ...
Two options Aug 20, 2008

1. Find a trustred colleague who can take on part of the work, and work with the colleague to make sure s/he respects your standards.
2. Contact the client ASAP and tell them honestly what happened, and make sure they also know that you are working your butt off right now to try and make them happy. You never know, they may give you a revised deadline. In any case, if you lose a bit of money over this, that's better than losing the entire order along with the client. And making the client happy despite the sticky situation may turn things around for both of you.

This is all about making sure you deliver ASAP, but also about showing the client that you care. Yes, of course, you made a mistake, but you are willing to go to great lengths to clean up the mess. Don't be too nervous about it - your client may appreciate your letting them know and doing your best, and all may turn out fine in the end. Being nervous now will not help you to do a good job for the client.

I truly sympathize. Courage!

[Edited at 2008-08-20 01:54]


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I like your idea/A few more questions Aug 20, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

1. Find a trustred colleague who can take on part of the work, and work with the colleague to make sure s/he respects your standards.
2. Contact the client ASAP and tell them honestly what happened, and make sure they also know that you are working your butt off right now to try and make them happy. You never know, they may give you a revised deadline. In any case, if you lose a bit of money over this, that's better than losing the entire order.

This is all about making sure you deliver ASAP, but also about showing the client that you care. Yes, of course, you made a mistake, but you are willing to go to great lengths to clean up the mess. Don't be too nervous about it - your client may appreciate your letting them know and doing your best, and all may turn out fine in the end. Being nervous now will not help you to do a good job for the client.

I truly sympathize. Courage!


Thank you, Viktoria. I plan on going with the second option.

Do you suggest I submit what I've done by the deadline, and hand in the rest when I am finished? Or, do you think I'm better off handing it in all at once?


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:22
English to French
+ ...
Work it out with the client Aug 20, 2008

Offer the choice to the client. If they really needed the document by the deadline, then they may ask you to deliver what you are already done with, and the rest as soon as possible. But if the documents are not actually needed today, then they may decide to leave you time to improve them before delivering.

The argument for delivering it all in one batch is clear: you can ensure better quality and consistency if you get to proofread your work in one shot before delivering. Explain this to the client, and then leave it up to them. They will make a decision based on their needs - but they will also know what the risks of each solution are.

The key here is to counsel the client as best you can while leaving overall control in their hands. They will feel like you enabled them to act as they deem fit - which is what you are really doing - and this will most likely help them appreciate your honesty and your willingness to submit to their preferences.

Most of all, they need to know you care, that your deepest desire is to help them achieve their goal and that you are willing to work towards that goal with them. You are not letting them down.

What clients are ultimately looking for in a translator is someone who takes care of things for them. Show them you understand that and that that's what you are all about. And let them know that this time, it was a mistake on your part, but that you will ensure you never make that mistake again.


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Maria Michelfelder  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 17:22
Member (2008)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Good advice Aug 20, 2008

This is very good advice, Viktoria. I have never been in that situation yet but when I find myself there I will remember this.

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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:22
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Yes, send it now. Aug 20, 2008

Srta Sara wrote:

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

1. Find a trustred colleague who can take on part of the work, and work with the colleague to make sure s/he respects your standards.
2. Contact the client ASAP and tell them honestly what happened, and make sure they also know that you are working your butt off right now to try and make them happy. You never know, they may give you a revised deadline. In any case, if you lose a bit of money over this, that's better than losing the entire order.

This is all about making sure you deliver ASAP, but also about showing the client that you care. Yes, of course, you made a mistake, but you are willing to go to great lengths to clean up the mess. Don't be too nervous about it - your client may appreciate your letting them know and doing your best, and all may turn out fine in the end. Being nervous now will not help you to do a good job for the client.

I truly sympathize. Courage!


Thank you, Viktoria. I plan on going with the second option.

Do you suggest I submit what I've done by the deadline, and hand in the rest when I am finished? Or, do you think I'm better off handing it in all at once?


Yes, in your situation I'd send the client what I'd done so far, explaining that, of course, the job isn't finalised, with apologies and explanations as Viktoria has suggested and that meanwhile you're continuing with the job.
I reckon that you've still got about 5 1/2 hours before the deadline (if you're on Eastern Standard Time), so send what you've done and rattle on!
Won't waste any more of your precious time.
Best of luck,
Jenny.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:22
Dutch to English
+ ...
Couple of points ... Aug 20, 2008

... just don't leave it until the deadline to deliver a partial job with your explanation.

As Viktoria rightly states, tell your client at the earliest possible opportunity that you've bitten off more than you can chew.

Personally, I'd also phone the PM (regardless of what it costs) and not just break the news by email.

They may well be able to use that time to split the job, leaving you to concentrate on what you can handle. They are the project managers, they will handle the situation as they see fit.

It may well be possible to extend the deadline but if it's a legal job, for instance, you may have a lawyer at the other end who has a meeting scheduled with an important client to discuss the translated document and then a revised deadline is not going to be an option.

Whatever happens, chalk it up to experience. I'm sure we've all overestimated what we can do at some time in our careers, so see it as part of the learning curve.

Best of luck
Debs


P.S. I just saw the job has a 9 a.m. deadline so most of my advice falls by the wayside as you probably won't be able to contact anyone much before the deadline. Still, I'll leave my posting here, maybe it assists someone in a similar situation.

[Edited at 2008-08-20 07:49]


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What I've done Aug 20, 2008

I sent an email to the PM. I explained my situation, and estimated how much extra time I will need. (Hopefully, that's an accurate estimate!) I doubt she's in her office yet, so I am waiting to hear from her.

Oh yeah......It's due at 0900 EST. (Eastern Standard Time; I'm on the east coast of the USA, and the company is based in the state right above mine)

[Edited at 2008-08-20 11:58]


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Mari Noller
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:22
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Good advice Aug 22, 2008

Some excellent suggestions above. I have had to do this once or twice, but only because of technical errors at my end. I often find that agencies have allowed an extra day or two before they have to deliver it to the end-client so there have been no problems

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