Know what pisses me off?  Projects gone bad.

Why?  Because it means someone didn’t get it right.

It’s not often, but it does happen.  To everyone.  Really.

The courtship which takes place during the development of an agency/client relationship heading into a project is always a fun and exciting time.  The thoughts of what can be accomplished and the plentiful opportunities that exist send everyone into a project with enthusiasm.

There are number of things you can do to ensure a project is successful, or to save one that is heading in the wrong direction.

The Ideal Scenario
All involved are participating, providing feedback and working together towards the clearly defined end-goal.  A sense of camaraderie and accomplishment is developed and the objectives of all involved are met.  High-fives all around.

To over-simplify: the client receives quality work, and therefore obtains the desired outcome.  The agency is paid in a timely fashion and is able to put their skills to best use.

When the Shit Hits the Fan
It happens.  No one ever wants a project to go south, but sometimes it does.

Unintended consequences, unfulfilled promises, unattained objectives.  However you define it or whomever might be at fault, no one can afford damaged relationships and squandered time.

3 Ways to Ensure a Successful Project
There are any number of things that might cause a project to jump the shark.  The sooner you can spot them, the sooner you can correct them, or in some cases, simply cut your losses.  Here are just 3 examples of things that you can do to ensure a project is successful.

Participate:
The project is started.  Ready.  Set.  Go.  Sorta.  Everyone involved needs to understand that participation is required for a successful project.

  • The Client:
    Materials like photos, logos and video are needed just to get things rolling.  Once the project is underway, timely feedback is critical to ensure the project continues moving forward.  If you don’t have time to participate in your project, don’t start it until you can.
  • The Agency:
    Be clear and concise about what you need to begin work.  It’s also important to manage work flow so that work can be done on different parts of the project if wait-time is encountered.

Understand the Money Behind the Project:
The topic we all need to become better at talking about right?  It’s one thing to negotiate the project price, but something entirely different after that.

  • The Client:
    Be sure you understand the payment terms for the project.  Also be sure you are in the financial position to make them.  If you want to know the level of frustration reached by many creatives, take a look at this keynote from Mike Monteiro  from Mule Designs.  Warning: Lots of F-bombs.
  • The Agency:
    Don’t take the payment and become a ghost.  I cringe when I hear, “I paid a guy to do it, then never heard from them again.” While this is typically a one-man-band being referenced, it’s something we all need to be cognizant of.

Have Realistic Expectations:
Nothing more frustrating than an otherwise successful project viewed through the lens of unrealistic expectations.

  • The Client:
    You want, and expect, big things to come from projects.  You should.  Unfortunately, they won’t happen the day after signing a contract.  Be realistic about what the outcome will be and when it will happen.  Be patient.  Be realistic.  Be rewarded.
  • The Agency:
    Don’t sell a bill of goods.  If you can’t handle the complexity of a project, say so.  Also, clearly communicate time-frame for results.

Your Take
No matter what side of the table you sit on, or what type of agency you might be, you have undoubtedly been part of a project gone awry.  It isn’t fun, but it can become a great learning experience.

What are some other ways to ensure a project is successful?