How to pick a Client Report? or….don’t do what I did.

You might have numerous client reports available from which to pick.  I didn’t.  My friend and I are trading services….she is making me a quilt and I am researching one of her family lines.  I really like the product I have been working on for her but, I do believe I “bit off more than I can chew!”

This has been a labor of love but it has been intense.  I have been fascinated by her ancestor who fought in some of the bloodiest of Civil War battles, was hospitalized for “malarial fever” and was in Confederate prison for seven months.  I have learned so much about the Civil War!  While I love the project, I think I should have defined the project a lot smaller.  I have two documents:  one a lineage report and the other a graphic narrative.  I loved putting both together.  But I admit I got so “into it” that I am sure I am doing more than what was anticipated.

Nevertheless, I have a few more hours of coordination of the footnotes between the two documents and the attachments and I will feel that I am very very close to being done.  One thing I cannot forget to do is to review the rubrics and make sure I am address each of them (or at least if I think I am.)  Whoo wee!

I am getting eager to work on my other projects such as the kinship determination report.

So, if there is a lesson here, it is to “think small.”  I am sure this is a classic “beginner” pitfall.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  incorporated the pension record material I got from Veteran’s Affairs into the report, standardized all the footnotes in the Narrative, reviewed the lineage report and noted the footnotes that needed adjustment, accepted a position on the SGS Board as publications chair after September 2012, worked on the program for the Ostfriesen Genealogical Society of America’s conference in Rockford iL in August, did the registration spreadsheet (we already have 7 people signed up…we usually get ~130.), went to NARA Seattle and checked whether my gggrandfather was on a passenger manifest coming into New Orleans (he wasn’t) and worked on my assignment for class which isn’t due until the end of the term on 15 March.


6 comments on “How to pick a Client Report? or….don’t do what I did.

  1. One consideration when doing a client project when you have never done this before is to remember what the client-professional relationship entails. Namely, that a client almost never presents an open-ended contract. A research report will nearly always represent a finite amount of billable research time. And I believe that this is one of the considerations in judging the research report (this is my opinion, not a statement of BCG policy) — how does the researcher handle reporting a project that has not been completed due to a lack of resources? From what I have read you have spent far more time on this client research report than would have likely been contracted by a client. I can’t state that this will come back to bite you, but I hope that you will learn from this experience.

    I would also like to pass on the maxim that has been given to many BCG hopefuls over the years in regard to the research report requirement:

    **Never submit the first research report you have ever written. Do several and submit the best one.**

    In my experience as a professional, this holds completely true. As I have completed each research project & met each goal, my reporting style has evolved significantly. Looking back at the first report I ever wrote for a client and comparing it to my most recent project — the reports do not even compare! From my perspective at this point in my career, I would never now submit those first few reports in a portfolio of my work.

    • jkmorelli says:

      I think the difficulty, having written a few contracts in my life, is that often the client cannot articulate what they want, primarily because they do not have the vocabulary to do so. This means that we use “our vocabulary,” in this sense, a “genealogy vocabulary,” and it has meaning to us but not to them. The task is education on both parts to understand what they want and of course, what we, as genealogists can reasonably provide. Neither is easy. Thanks for the good advice on the multiple clients and their reports. I appreciate the advice. That is the route my friend is taking.

      • Defining the research goal is one of the other important aspects of what we do as professionals. We have to listen to them describe what they want and help them to clarify the problem. We can then create a research plan with small goals to accomplish the larger goal.

        In several hundred clients that have hired me, I have never had any that did not know what they wanted before they contacted me. In some cases, it is as broad as “I want you to research my family tree.” In other cases it is as narrow as “Please find everything you can on this person in this place.”

        But it is our job as professional researchers to advise them and thoroughly explain what can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time. In some cases I had to explain to them that this was not a simple “look-up” problem when they thought it was. In other cases the project, as they defined it, was impossible due to their lack of understanding of the nature of the local history or available records. We instead worked together to redefine the project in terms of what could actually be accomplished.

      • jkmorelli says:

        I have been thinking a lot about your comment this past week and, while it has taken me a while to get to this point, I now totally agree. See my next post. Thanks so much for continuing to give me advice (whether I take it or not!).

  2. Of course I am thrilled about the project we’re sharing, but gee whiz! At this point, I’m sure I’m getting the better deal!:)

    • jkmorelli says:

      Actually, I am too, except for the fact that Jens is one of the most fascinating “dead persons” I have “met”! And, I have met a few in my life! That makes it all worthwhile.

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