Making sure your clients are kept in the loop is one of the most important aspects of running any business — especially when projects span multiple weeks or months.
Clients with their finger on the pulse are happier, more responsive and lead to projects that run smoothly and on target. I have found that sending a simple End of Day Report (EDR) just before I close my laptop helps immeasurably.
The EDR is the simplest way I have found to keep my clients up to speed with what has happened, what will happen next, and whether there is anything I need from them. It prevents anxiety (them wondering what I do all day), and gives me the opportunity to consider next steps and queue up tasks so I can start the following day without too much ramp-up.
(The basic way of implementing an EDR is to just send an email or chat message at the end of each day, but I’ve put together a tool to help me integrate my EDRs into my normal workflow as well as add some nifty bells and whistles that help my clients even further — more on this later).
An EDR is structured, and consists of four sections:
This details how much time you have worked (cumulatively) as well as the time worked today. Just two numbers detailing the number of hours that will be on the next invoice, and the number of hours added to that number today.
A bulleted list detailing the items that were worked on today. Things like “Renewed domains” or “Built out registration system”. There is no need to go into lots of detail, but the items should be understandable (i.e. “no fixed 3 issues” or “Refactored”).
Another bulleted list of the two or three items you want to complete the next working day. Including the date of the next working day here ensures that the client knows when you’re going to be back in the office (bank holidays, days off, etc…)
Anything blocking you or requiring attention before the next unit of work can begin, or any details from the days work that the client needs to know about or you would like to draw attention to. Things like “Please check the copy on the registration emails so we can mark this as complete” or “Take a look at the new transitions during signup — they look amazing!”. I usually write this as a short series of paragraphs rather than a list as it makes for a slightly more personable interaction.
My clients love their End of Day Reports. They help surface issues before they become blockers, provide me with a little time to reflect on next steps, let me kick the next day off with a task I know I’ve already queued up and they give the client chance to prioritise another task before I commit. It’s also a nice way (when working from home) to give the day a bit of closure.
This is not a completely altruistic process; I write my EDRs for my benefit as much as my clients. If the client opts out (and some do — it’s another report after all), then I write it but don’t send. I still get a log of the tasks I’ve done, and I can still take those five minutes to reflect on the day I’ve completed and plan for the next.
If the client later decides that actually, they do need to know what I’ve been up to, then it’s all there. I can just collate the reports and email. Simple, and well worth the five minutes it takes to compose (my in-house tool allows me to skip the collating now, and just give the client a link)!
Now, as I mentioned before, you can just email these out or send via chat, and I started doing this initially, however, I have found that there are some rough edges with this approach.
I forget. The client loses the email in their daily torrent. The client wants to know what happened on Friday, and it’s easier to just ask me rather than search through emails. The simple solution of sending directly works, but these rough corner cases always crop up.