I generally greet client needs with a gleeful smile and get right on it. I am finding that I am really dragging my feet in my current assignment.
I am at a branding company that was worried about getting stuff finished an onto the next step in the production (which is video made of the ppt files I created). A reasonable time frame would be for the files to be finalized by EOD last Friday. They were created last Wed. Well…content has continued to come in during this week and we still don’t have sign-off.
Every step of the way it has been worry on this side and when dealing with the client, it is “sure, we can take care of that,” said in a very upbeat way. It seems like the client is getting no resistance to making fundamental changes so late in the game. No mention of needing to pull overtime to meet the deadline and how many other things are at risk due to being up against the last possible moment. I get the feeling that the client thinks the deadline is X and they can make changes up until X and it will be done. And it will be. These guys are pushing to the very edge to make it happen. And the client doesn’t have a clue.
When the client doesn’t know how hard they are making the job, then they get this idea that the miracle you pulled off by sacrificing something of yourself is a baseline and they then expect that. I don’t mind pulling off the miracles, I love pulling off the miracles but I think it is important that the client understand what it took to make everything happen. I don’t like Scotty’s approach of estimating 3 weeks and getting it done is 2 hours in an emergency. I need to put some padding in unlike Geordie’s approach of stating exactly what it will take because I tend to estimate what the time will be if everything goes right.
I think what is going on with this project is either poor project management or poor client management or both. I don’t know if they have a good handle of what is involved in the critical path and what flex room is available so they started worrying too soon. I am pretty sure the client isn’t being handled well. As a client I would be really upset if I was thinking we had time for a change I consider important and then am informed that we are past that point. I would want a ramping up of resistance so I could adjust my focus to what is critical. Every step of the way, every change, from a minor typo to centering the text to actual content change, it has been all treated as very important changes. There hasn’t been time for us to push back when they make a choice that is poor for the look of the presentation. We just do it the way they want it rather than suggest options that might make their point even more clear or work with the overall design better. It is very slap and dash on our side.
The face everyone here shows the client is “Sure, we are happy to do that, what else can we do to make you happy.” I have gotten to the point of “sure, I can do it and would be happy to but this is what it affects, do you want me to go forward with it?” It is a very different approach. I don’t know which is better. They have a thriving business and I am doing temp work. I would love more training in project and client management.
I came up with the idea that when I work with a client for a set price, there is a listing of deadlines and number of rounds of edits. If the work goes beyond that, which it almost always does, I would like to have some sort of compensation built in, like an hourly fee that will then get tagged onto the set price. That way the client can decide if the edits are worth it. As is, the client will keep poking at it and keep changing their mind because it doesn’t cost them anything but time. Not being paid based on my time, the more effort I spend on something, the less I make. I end up doing things for free. I haven’t seen this structure mentioned in the online research I have been doing for graphic designers. I would love to work for an hourly wage but if I am going to do set prices, I think this approach is the most reasonable.
It is a branding company that is getting a bunch of stuff ready for a big client for a big conference including some ppt decks which I was brought in to work on. On a reasonable schedule, everything needed to be finalized last Friday and I started creating the first ones last Wed. This isn’t a problem if the content is close to done but it turns out that the content was in the early draft form. Thur saw it nailed down to which ones were going to be kept (7 decks) and some of them completely changed content. Friday was making the first round of edits to them. All of last week there was worry about how late the client was pushing getting us material.
We were extending the deadline to early Monday morning as being within reason and ended up with half hour meetings with 5 content owners really working over each presentation. Fundamental changes were happening. Entire focus of presentations were put back to where we had moved them through the edits from the prior week. This was the first the content owners were getting to say anything about the presentations. We were working on content, not design. To make things work the way the content owners wanted, the quality of the design went downhill. We started with some high quality and now I am not sure I would want this in my portfolio.
Monday day was spent on the edits and getting things into shape. There was a review phone conference as the two different people overseeing the entire project went over the content owner changes and made their own. Those edits were made in time for an in person meeting at 2pm. At 5, we had another entire set of edits. Each round were major changes but at least these edits weren’t all changes in content but more focused on format. Here we are at the end of Tues photoshoping images, getting new images, changing charts (which are in Illustrator) and moving things around. I stayed until 10:30pm making most of the changes.
Monday, the head of the project at the design firm leaves for the holidays. Tues the one that took the lead from him leaves (at 8pm to start driving to LV) for the holidays. It is now Wed and it is just me and the proofreader and we just finished the last set of edits which were at the typo and minor modification level (what I think should have been done Monday morning). One of the presenters is coming in at 2:30pm for a demo and we are hoping to take the materials with her so we don’t have to ship them. We close down at 3pm.