July 2, 2014 - 9 comments

You’ve Got Issues

I'm working on a little something and I'd love to hear from my friends (you). It's simple. Just answer this one question in the comments below.

What is the one issue that you face often on projects?

Maybe there are two or three. Share them, please. And, if you have the time or the inclination, share how you resolve the issue. If I'd like to use your response for my project, I'll get in touch.

Thank you!

Published by: brettharned in Uncategorized


July 2, 2014 at 11:51 am

Balancing transparency with ownership. It’s all good and dandy to be as transparent as a pane of new glass, but if the client doesn’t take ownership of what you’re telling them, then it’s all for naught. Meaning, if I’m updating a client every week on how their budget is doing, how their timeline is doing and how the scope has expanded and/or retracted… and then raise a flag at some point about one of these points, I shouldn’t have to worry that the client will be in a state of shock and dismay.

… I’m having a hard time explaining to a client that, while it’s my job to ensure that my team is being efficient and awesome and super hero-like, it’s their job to absorb, contemplate and react to the constant reality checks I deliver. And to work with me to manage their money.

Alex Saxon (@alexsaxon)
July 3, 2014 at 5:28 am

– Lack of internal comms
– Team members waiting for a solution being laid in their lap, rather than using their initiative to suggest ways fwd
– Lack of commercial awareness from design / development teams

James Collins
July 3, 2014 at 9:13 am

Role and access of AEs to interactive staff: who assigns, delegates, oversees who in an ideal situation?

Crystal Vitelli
July 3, 2014 at 9:54 am

Do Client’s Get It?

To build a little bit off cpom’s comment, we often see that our client’s find it hard to absorb the design and development phases of our projects. As we start to take on larger and more complex websites, and the more we do responsive web projects, the larger the learning curve we have to overcome with our clients. So not only are we adjusting things a bit internally for, say, responsive projects, the need to manage the client’s learning and expectations of the project significantly increases.

When client’s just don’t quite get what we’re doing, it makes me nervous for a couple of reasons 1. if they don’t get it, they could pop up with something out of left field at the worst possible time 2. if they don’t get it, they may not see the value we are providing them 3. if they don’t get it, they may not be happy or satisfied with the end result

Being a part of an ever changing technology industry, how can we (with in reason) bring our client’s along with us as things change? I am realizing more and more (to quote Sam) it’s really hard to be a client. It’s really hard for them to find their way through massive digital projects AND keep up with their current 9-5 responsibilities. So how can we include client education into our project process? Is this the role agencies should be taking on? during projects? (I’m inclined to thing yes of course) yes, trust between agency and client is critical, but how can we foster more partner attitudes from our clients? how can we help our clients feel “like we are a part of their team”? how can we ensure they are actually absorbing what they need to absorb? understanding what they need to understand? so that at the end of the project road, they can take more ownership of their digital assets and launch their brands forward in the ways we’ve tried to empower them to do.

July 3, 2014 at 1:49 pm

The client not having enough clarity in where they want to take the project, and due to that communicating out the wrong objectives. Mostly it always ends up being about money, rather than the initial concern about time or quality.

I know thats a task for me to handle, as its my job to dig deep. But sometimes, even with the right questions, the client always want something in the beginning, that turns out to be somewhat different at the end.

July 3, 2014 at 4:58 pm

I would say the one items that is top-of-mind would be ensuring you are talking to or meeting the needs of the project owner. Just b/c you are interfacing with a core team or another PM that is managing the project doesn’t mean they are the correct project owner. I recall a project that involved getting tons of feedback from one party and trying to me their needs and then upon final delivery the real stakeholder emerged and expected something totally different.

For reference, I had put together a previous document on why projects fail and came up with the following:

1. Quality – Browser requirements, accountability (who is the ultimate client)
2. Resources – Availability, Skill Set
3. Communication – Expectations, Consistency
4. Scope – technical limitations; brand knowledge
5. Budget – unforeseen software costs, estimate accuracy.

I’m sure there is more, but a quick brain-dump to help your effort.

Ian May (@ThatIanMay)
July 11, 2014 at 7:05 am

Great question. And interesting answers. Glad it’s not just me!

For me it’s people (both our side and client side) giving their opinions at the wrong time during the project and then ‘getting the hump’ because we’re not necessarily as receptive as we could or should be. The impact of the emotional side of projects on teams is often underestimated and that can cause issues with the way you need to get people to focus on what’s important in order to get the project delivered.

July 15, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Our agency is just beginning to build a project management team to work along side account managers. In our short history, we’ve assigned PMs by client and run into the issue of a very unbalanced workload, one PM is slammed and the other has nothing to work on. We’ve toyed with the idea of assigning PMs by project as they come in to make it a more balanced workload, but hate the idea of clients having multiple points of contact. However, we cannot seem to agree as a team. Can you recommend the best staffing practices in your experience?

July 23, 2014 at 5:21 am

Hi Brett,
I was just preparing a new blog post related to this, so it’s perfect timing. Glad to help :).

I am a digital project manager in a multidisciplinary creative agency, and we work mostly with startups. My major “issue” are Product Managers. I believe they are a strong asset to a startup if they are good PMs, but they can ruin a perfectly good idea otherwise. And unfortunately it’s really hard to find good PMs.
From a project manager’s perspective (leading the design/development team behind the product) it’s a nightmare to have unclear specifications, a blurry long term vision, ideas changing daily or constraints imposed for no reason. Your team ends up frustrated most of the times and you have troubles offering a good time/resources/budget planning… just because you don’t know what to expect next.
Internal affairs I can cope with, I find them manageable… but when it comes to your clients things get delicate. As much as me & my team want to help and keep up high standards, sometimes this is just not possible due to an unclear road map of the product being build.

I hope this helps.

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