Is there some general rule to follow when delivering a project after the date that was agreed upon?

Let's say you have one month to prepare the project but you deliver it in six weeks. At what point you should offer some kind of compensation to keep relations good? How big should be the compensation - deduct how many percents from final price? Or what other compensation should I offer, if any?

I know this should not happen in the first place, but when it does, what are proper manners?

Thank you for your answers.

2 Answers 2


Well I also did some deductions after I was late in the project. I took down my hourly price 25%. In the end, the client was happy, but I am not sure I did the right way.

After this event, I started informing clients as soon as I run across the bottleneck or slow task by explaining them why I estimated atask for X hours and now realize it will take Y hours. So far, this works well and I don't have to drop my price down.

So the key is in the communication and keeping the client aware of all good and bad things. You can always pack bad things in the nice wrapping, but I would always tell the client about the issues, than implement them the quick & wrong way or telling him about it in the last minute.

  • 4
    With houses, it's location, location, location. With clients, it's communication, communication, communication. (I agree with you) Jul 2, 2014 at 12:33
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    Same here. Letting them know why you will be late with the project seemed to work fine so far. I even had clients that payed me more because of the extra work that was not expected. Jul 7, 2014 at 8:47

For the best result, I think it's important to:

  1. let the client know as soon as possible that you may not be able to meet the deadline (this gives the client the maximum amount of time to make alternative arrangements if needed)

  2. be honest and explain why (it may be something out of your control)

  3. find out what the impact to the client will be (it may not be an issue)

  4. if the client is impacted, work out what you can do to reduce the impact as much as possible (e.g. maybe you can deliver critical parts of the project on time and the less critical parts later)

  5. work out what you can do to make it up to the client (something that is commensurate with the impact, if there is one)

  6. don't make a habit of breaking deadlines with any particular client so you can keep your reputation intact

Some ideas on compensating your client for a missed deadline are:

  1. reduce the agreed price (e.g. by 10%)

  2. complete an out of scope task for free

  3. offer to reduce your price on the next project

  4. deliver something extra the client isn't expecting

If you're not sure what would make the client happy, then ask them!

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