The job is not finished "until the money is in the bank"

In between times as an academic, I worked for one of the major consulting houses in a senior capacity – meaning I was responsible for the money.  Despite their big name, I was astounded that they had difficulty collecting their money and that a major part of my job was chasing “aged creditors”.

When I returned to academia, I made a special point of reading up “how to bill” and I learned an important phrase – “bill at the point of gratitude”. Simply, strike while the iron is hot. Present your fee note while the client is feeling grateful and make sure you take the cheque home with you.

Thereafter, I planned the billing into a job. When I wrote a proposal, I thought through when and how we would bill.  And, it worked.  I never had a problem with aged creditors again, or clients paying me late, to use ordinary language.

As I introduced students to the world of consultancy, I stressed the phrase: “the job is not finished until the money is in the bank”.

So why is this relevant to academics?

Well simply, a research project is not finished until it is published.  An unpublished research project is liking not collecting your payment from a client. To all intents and purposes, you need not have bothered to do the work.

The three rules of thumb are

  • Plan to finish and know what finishing means - what document are you writing, where will you be sending it, and on what date?
  • Write up as you go along and while the work is fresh in your mind
  • Get projects finished and do something toward finishing every day

Here is a brilliant link to how to write productively as an academic from Scripps University. It is written for scientists but it applies, with a little adjustment, to everyone.

Hat-tip to laika on who alerted me to the paper from Scripps.