Monthly Archives: November 2010

client/project management

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.

What I want

I didn’t do this for my birthday but it is well timed. It came to me in a dream….
I was in that inbetween space between sleep and awake and had thoughts of where I want to go, what I want in my life. It was really hard to hold onto them and get them written down but I did manage to get the gist of them. Looking at them a day later, I am pretty amazed at how dead on these are. There is a part of me that thinks they are all hokey and a waste of time. It is the one worried about posting these and how stupid I will feel and how empty these things will seem later. I try not to pay too much attention to that part and just keep moving forward.

During my waking hours, I want to feel the ease of life and the contment that I feel when I have just woken up from a deep sleep. I want to be in tune with life instead of fighting it.
I want to feel peace and serenity with who I am and where I am and what I have before me. I want to see the beauty of everyday things instead of feeling the need to nitpick the edges.
I want to see the glow of each person’s character rather than the dull form of their external shape.
I want to be a part of the process of living instead of resenting the fact that I exist
I want to experience life instead of withstanding it and feeling beaten up by it.
I want to feel graceful and light rather than heavy and plodding, to float rather than fight my way through waist high mud or against the current.
I want to slide through rather than hacking a way through
I want to feel rather than hurt or lack of hurt
I want to relax rather than colapse
I want to change, or reorganize me instead of feeling the need to make the world change to suit me.
I want to feel like I don’t have to be in charge to have things work for me.
I want to find a path that works for me and that I can keep to.
I want to be settled rather than lost
I want to explore and delight in the new rather than feel the need to be afraid and hide.
I want to expand rather than contract.
I want to feel the joy of the moment when there is nothing happening.
I want to be able to enjoy the quiet.
I want to folow and be taken care of and to rise and take care of others when it is appropriate.
I want experience glow rather than glare.

I want to find a tradition, path,practice,way, path thatkeeps me orented and grounded in what I want, need, looking for, going forward.
I am tired of flailing this way and that searching for anything to add to the pile. I want a measure of how well I am doing to cling to for when I am not feeling like I am doing well.
I want a space where I can take a break without loosing ground.

another bout

I am tired. I don’t want to do this any more.

I am getting the message to just suck it up. I have learned how to open up to be able to actually enjoy for once and it is back to suck it up. I don’t feel I have the resources to go back to sucking it up. I don’t think I am willing. I am back to wanting to quit.

Tomorrow is another day. Lets see what it brings.


Another two loads of laundry done. Mostly put away. I did two loads sometime last week (I think). Still shaky, still needing to rock myself to keep calm. But I did do it with no panic attack. Big improvement, small baby steps. Still have a long way to go but there is movement. Wow, movement, glad to have that.

out of shape

Got up and out for a walk at the Albany Bulb at 1pm. Hit my limit a few times and had to sit down and recuperate. Got a Subway tuna sandwich afterwards. Energy is just not coming back. I am soooo tired. Not sleepy but feeling ready to go to bed. It is not even 6pm yet.

I still feel a little warm in the face which may be leftover sun but I am too tired to look into it. People would probably call today a nice weather day and I felt it was too warm for a walk. I didn’t feel comfortable until the wind picked up.

This getting back into shape thing is not pleasant. But I know is it good to do and I want the results.

Follow-up: it is now 9pm and I am wide awake. I have spent the last three hours on the couch surfing the internet and chilling. I have had one ice cream sandwich. That’s it and I am wide awake and feeling like I have energy. Guess it took longer than I expected to recover from the hike.

I sort of feel like I haven’t moved all day.

Coraline stage production

Coraline,the stage production is coming to SF. Goldstar was offering free tickets (plus fees) but they are all sold out. They still have $20+$5fee tickets. Regular price $30-$40.
Anyone want to go with me?
Nov 24, Dec 1, 8, 9, 26, 30 are the dates covered (assuming tickets are still available when it is time to buy them).