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My client (a kind of a spa) called me to do their new website and stationery. After almost a month of investigation and interviewing the staff, I came to the conclusion that the problem is not their stationery or their website. Their problem is the outdated HMS (Hospital Management System) and all the underlying processes and the overall messy workflow that produces lots and lots of unnecessary clutter and wasted paper. But I don't know how to convince him to work with a programmer to update their system first and then work on their stationery. He just wants a "pretty website and minimalist stationery"

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    I prefer the line... "Oh, so you want me to put a bow tie on this pig, do ya??" – Scott Sep 12 '14 at 17:17
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    I'm confused. What 'problem' were you asked to solve? It sounds like they were asking for help with the web site and stationery. I think it's fine to point out something you see outside of this scope, but I don't think it's your job to convince them of anything outside of what they hired you to do. In otherwords, offer your unsolicited advice, and leave it at that. – DA01 Sep 13 '14 at 6:10
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    They hired me to do the new website and stationery. But to make the new stationery design I have to know how the workflow of their paper is. They have lots and lots of different papers going around. The customers get tons of paper when the check in. So they asked me to simplify and to reduce the amount of paper they use and give to their customers. But to do that I depend on the amount of papers that their HMS produces too. Short story: I can't reduce their paper use if they don't optimize their HMS first. Maybe you are right, this is unsolicited advice. – user29857 Sep 15 '14 at 0:37
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Wow, I feel your pain. Been there.

Whether you present the additional work depends entirely on the kind of relationship you have with the client.

If this is a new or casual client, not someone you can speak with bluntly, just prepare a scope of work and quote to cover the website and stationery and ignore the rest.

If you can speak honestly to this person, you should still prepare the scope and quote exactly as requested.

But when you present the scope to the client, explain that your investigations led you to additional conclusions. Be prepared to back your opinions with hard evidence, preferably comparisons to other spas which use other processes and have better results. If you're really bored, you can get a quote for the programming you think should be done, and do a cost-benefit analysis to show how it would benefit the client in the long run.

You will then likely hear:

  • They can't change the HMS for whatever reason
  • They don't have the money for a programmer
  • "The current system works just fine"

And you should pleasantly agree and drop the subject. Hand the client your scope and quote for the website and stationery and don't bring up the sausage-making again.

So yeah, you can try to fix the underlying problem, but you have to do it on your own time and your own nickel, and the chances are very high that your efforts will be ignored.

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