I have read several things recently that spoke about under-committing and over-delivering. I first thought that this was a sacrifice of integrity, but that thought began to change as I read and thought about this more.
The concept, basically, is that you should inform your client that they will receive less than your believe you can deliver or that it will take a little longer than you think it will take. This will allow for “Murphy” (whatever can go wrong, will go wrong) to show up and you can still give what you promise.
One book I read (“Successful Freelancing for Web Designers”), stated that you should figure out how much time the project should take, and then add 50% to that. This allows time for things to interrupt and problems to interject themselves. If you still finish the project early, they suggest not to submit it early.
“What!?” I thought. “It would make them think that you are greater if you deliver it early!” Well, then I finished reading the paragraph.
They stated that it would be better then to go through the project and see how you can make it better. Add a bell here; a whistle there; shine the chrome a little. Then deliver a super-awesome project on-time. Your shiny project will make you shine even more!
Plus, they point out that if you finish early, it may set a pattern for the future. They, or another client, may expect all projects to be finished early. It would be better for them to expect you to be done on time, and you deliver a WOW product (as Michael Hyatt points out in “Platform”).
Question: How have you worked at trying to over-deliver?