I started a project given by client and it went fine for couple of days. Middle of the way, I got stucked with a technical limitation. I'm unable to proceed and it'll take more time and R&D to complete the task.

Obviously, I can't reach the deadline given. How can I communicate this situation to the client without provoking him or make him upset about the delivery delay.


Your client is a person, too. They have been late or missed deadlines at some point in their life as well. Unless you have a really aggressive client, they should understand that things happen. And if they are extremely upset about it.. they might not be the type of client you wan to keep around.

I take a very relaxed approach to communicating with clients. Not to say I take my time, but rather I just talk to them like I would any other person.

"Hi XYZ, I'm having some issues with ABC and I won't be able to make the deadline. I'm researching the issue now, but what's the absolutely end date we can push the deadline to?

I apologize for the delay but this was an unexpected issue that popped up. Hopefully I can figure this out sooner than later."

Of course you should communicate in your own voice.. but I don't see a problem with just being straight forward with them. I know I appreciate honestly a whole lot more than I do someone who keeps me in the dark.

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    I have found being honest with clients on deadlines is best things to do. But I'd say you should have communication process in such a way that if that were to happen the client would know of it before it happens. I have two meetings with clients weekly for status update and next steps. With more tech-savy clients I do daily standups. May 22 '13 at 5:15

In your Scope of Work contract, you should always have a clause about unforeseen circumstances that could introduce delays. I come from the IT Services industry, and that is one thing we always mention: The absolute minimum completion time/date, and the potential end time/date, for anything that may come up. I get to deal with almost a thousand clients personally, and I can never offer a definitive time for it to be done because I know interruptions happen. It's difficult to not be able to say a specific time, but things will come up.

For technical limitations or mishaps, as Drew explained, you need to tell the client as soon as you know there will be a delay. If it's out of business hours, send an email as soon as you expect a delay, and follow up with a phone call an hour or so after they have re-opened. You may think that you're being a bother, but the best clients will appreciate you being pro-active, as opposed to being re-active


In general prompt communication is a good thing. You should let your client know as soon as possible what the problems are so that if chances need to be made to the work plan/scope of work, they can de done in a way you both can live with.

Maybe they will decide it is too much trouble and pay you for work done. Maybe they will decide they want to expand the project. Maybe someone on their side knows something that makes things better. However any client worth your time will appreciate it.

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