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We all know that running a digital agency and its projects pose its own set of challenges. How do you set expectation levels when you're not delivering a tangible product? How do you prevent scope creep? What are appropriate communication standards? And most importantly, how do you remain profitable during this entire process?
This 4 part series will give you my 8 Best Management Practices to help answer all of those questions and more. Following these BMPs will ensure that your agency, project managers, and clients are happy every time. I didn’t pull these out of thin air I learned most of these lessons the hard way. So save yourself the trouble and take these BMPs, share them with your project managers or account executives, and watch the complaints go down and your productivity go up.
Drumroll please! The first two Best Management Practices for Digital Projects are:
1. Never Jump Ahead
It doesn't matter if you have 4 steps, 8 steps, or 332 steps, never skip one! If you skip a step it's going to come back and bite you in the ass. You must have a clearly defined project lifecycle to walk the client through and you must follow that process every time. You cannot effectively do a design for a website if the copy isn't completed. If you do try to do a design you’re going to be jumping back-and-forth between getting copy approved and getting designs approved and you’re going to waste you and your clients time and resources.
You must have a clearly defined project lifecycle to walk the client through and you must follow that process every time.
So if someone comes to you and tells you to take the copy from their existing website and go for it, that’s okay. Just make sure you take that copy, put it in a Word document, and have them sign-off on it. Then, and only then, can you move onto the design phase. This is so important because later on when they decide that they don’t actually like the copy and they want to change it, you can say, “No problem, here’s your change order form.”
(RELATED: Check out our article on How to Prevent Scope Creep.)
It’s not the clients fault, they just don't understand that a few paragraphs can change everything. You’ll have to slice it differently, the layout may have to change, the design elements will need to be redone, etc. And that design dictates how you program it, or implement it, or set it up on Facebook or on Google. The copy will dictate what the design looks like, the design will dictate how you go about setting everything up.
When you look at it like this you realize you must follow the steps of the process, in order! If you don’t you’ll have to jump around, back track, and keep redoing things. This is when projects go over budget, past due, and scope creep sets in. There’s a process for a reason, so follow it.
2. Quality Assurance
Do not take a website or an ad that is 80% done and send it to a client. If you send it over to them and it's not 99% done then all they will see are errors. This will make them upset and that feeling will carry over into the rest of the project. From that point forward, they’re going to be on guard looking for mistakes and if you do make just one they will chew your ass out. After all, you promised high quality.
It's your job as the agency owner to ensure that your project managers and account executives are only delivering excellence. It’s easy to create a happy client if you deliver excellence every single time. Once you make them a happy client and they see how great your processes are and how high quality your work is, if you send them something that isn't perfect they'll see it as an anomaly and they'll brush it off.
(RELATED: How can you trust that your employees will deliver excellence without having to micromanage them? Check it out!)
It’s easy to create a happy client if you deliver excellence every single time.
However, if the first or second thing you send over is half-assed, has broken links, wrong numbers, or anything wrong at all, it will ruin expectation levels. The client will perceive you to be lazy, or that you don’t pay attention to details, or even that you don’t have their best interests in mind. So make sure you have a system in place that assures you’re sending out only the best. Everything should be double checked, have a second pair of eyes on it, and revised again. Going through everything with a fine tooth comb before you send it to a client will keep your ass from getting in trouble and leave you with happier clients.
There you have it, the first two best management practices. Make sure you’re following your project lifecycle steps in order and make sure you’re putting out high quality work that you’re proud of every time. Just in case you haven't seen the other BMPs you can find them here:
Best Management Practices for Digital Projects 3 & 4
Best Management Practices for Digital Projects 5 & 6
Best Management Practices for Digital Projects 7 & 8
(NOTE: If you want access to change order forms, legal documents, templates, and more check out our Perfect Project Lifecycle online course.)