I started a software project with a client a couple months back. It is accompanying a hardware product that will be released soon. I was told the schedule and was overly optimistic about it.

About halfway through the project timeline I was already behind but I told the client that we could probably catch up by my taking on some help. The client was ok with that but didn't want to have to deal with another person so I was to handle that behind the scenes.

The person (an acquaintance) I asked to help pushed things along for a bit but then they lost interest. Now I'm a week away from the deadline and the project is only about half done.

The client doesn't communicate much. His emails are usually one or two sentences every couple of weeks. His latest one says "We are a few days away from the target date. What is it going to take to kick this into high gear?"

There's no way this project is being finished in a week. I honestly don't know how to respond and I feel cornered. How can I handle this?

If I can get this tension resolved I wouldn't mind finishing the project, but right now I just want to run and hide.

  • Don't run away. It's not only the worst thing you can do (yes, worse than deliver bad product), but he can sue you as well. Be a man and a professional and tell him what Zeal Lin proposed.
    – Peter MV
    May 29, 2015 at 15:00
  • What technologies is this software based on?
    – lokson
    Jun 12, 2015 at 11:56

3 Answers 3


Face the problem and be honest to your client.

I think it would be better to do some serious schedule estimation on how the schedule can be shift to finish the project. Then talk to your client, explain the delay situation and the cause of it.

Let them choose whether they want to keep going with the new schedule (you may promise to finish the project on new schedule) or stop this project (money back).

Project delay always happen in IT industry, face the problem, discuss with your client and try to get the resource you need. You will find the way to solve the problem.


In addition to Zeal Lin's answer, I suggest that you constantly keep up to date the client for good and not good updates, such as difficulty to be on time with the schedule of the work, or the fact that all is going good.

Don't wait until the last moment to tell the client that you have a problem or it will look like you were hiding the problems and the client instead is convinced that everything is going good. This is not very professional to the client's eyes.

What can you do now? Be honest with the client and at same time propose a plausible solution, meanwhile you can ask for help to collegues to finish the job as fast as possible.


Always try to be as communicative and as transparent as possible, bad news included. You might think that would injure your reputation with the client, but most clients have seen respect when bad news were shared.

Right now, estimate a realistic date. Don't try to rush the new date. make sure you can reach it by giving yourself some slack. worse than a timeline not bieng satisfied is two timelines goe wrong.

My approach. Email the client with the new timeline, ask to meet with him so you can show the progress, (that will show the client you haven't been lazy) and offer two choices, carry on with the project, or full refund him (or refund the very most part of it if you can't fulfill it).

Do it fast. even only a week before is much better than telling him on Day D.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.