After several years of Robojuice abiding by the principal that the schedule to get a web initiative done was something to be respected and held to, we found out that was not at all the normal client experience. It seemed strange, but so many prospects and clients we engaged mentioned missed deadlines as something they typically experience on their web initiatives.
Granted, 100% of all the necessary steps for any web initiative are not handled entirely by one group but if we really feel that driving the process for web falls on the web partner then the client should be aware of their role in the production schedule and have an understanding of the impact they have on the schedule. We are all human and things happen, items get missed or delayed, but everyone has to be in the know and be fine with a few days or a week added to the schedule due to content, IT issues, software or hardware challenges, sign offs, etc. not finalizing as clean as possible.
Just let the client know up front the schedule and then remind them along way of the key milestones – especially the handful of client responsibilities necessary to stay on course. Surprises at the conclusion of a project that extend the schedule are never fun for anyone.