I’ve handled this well and I’ve handled this badly, so: A Tale of Two Clients
Taking the reins from my predecessor went very well with my first client. I made several checklists of things to discuss and I went over it with one of the associates, who green-lit everything. I followed up with some timetables, and things went mostly according to plan.
Several parts of the migration from their DaaS (Desktop-as-a-Service) provider took longer (migrating the data, tweaking the new system and MS Office settings for their workflow), and there were some hiccups (the provider deleted their MS Office Users instead of just removing the licenses, a lot of older files needed to be converted), but they were patient, accepted downtime for the changeover, and we were in good communication throughout.
My second takeover should have gone better, but it didn’t. I got a tour of the office and made copious notes. I sent back a detailed list of my recommendations. A month went by. I did a hardware upgrade on one system. Another month went by. Then I got an emergency call to restore a deleted file, during which visit I installed my agents on their lunch hour. Then they never cancelled their old MSP, so one day my agent disappears from their server. And on and on the confusion went, much of it stemming from the bad transition.
As a businessman and professional, the errors were mine and they were mostly mistakes of assumptions. I assumed they’d accommodate downtime. I assumed they were going to take my recommendations. I assumed they’d be eager for improvements. I assumed they’d communicate in a timely fashion.
So early on, get the information about what your prospective client wants and make your precise recommendations. Be clear about what you need and how long it will take to get the job done. I they’re not going with your exact advice, then be clear about why you don’t recommend what they’e asking for.
Then, be clear about timetables. Finally, ask whether they understand your recommendations and if they agree to what is going to happen and when. You don’t have to be rude or excessively forthright, but make it clear that things won’t proceed unless you have what you need, whether that’s a payment or a date or a signature.
Make sure you always know what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, and that you have what you need. You need to stand your ground on this issue, because once you start, you’re responsible. It’s important to avoid positions where you’re not doing you best work and you’re sticking your neck out for no real reason other than to be accommodating.