How To Avoid Digital Marketing Project Disruptions
Projects are delayed or go over budget for many reasons. The most common culprit is scope creep. When something big happens all at once that triggers a shift in plan, it is easy to identify and address. However, when small, cumulative disruptions occur at different times throughout the project, they can go undetectable until they manifest themselves as bottlenecks or temporary derailments. These “Slow Creep” impediments can catch both your marketing department and your agency off-guard.
“Slow Creep” impediments appear at first as minor, simple one-time events. They are often viewed as nuisances that can easily be overcome and moved past. While this is the case most of the time, it is not the case all of the time. These slow creep disruptors can devolve into gotcha’s that cause temporary delays and detours during the project and require unbudgeted time and resources to resolve.
Here are a few suggestions to prevent slow creep from disrupting your next digital marketing project.
- Kick-off meeting: For larger, or more complex projects suggest your agency have a kick-off meeting if they do not recommend one on their own. It does not have to be formal or lengthy. In the kick-off meeting (on phone, in person, or online) review the agreement together, especially the assumptions. This is particularly important if a long time passed between the time a proposal was submitted and approved. It is a great opportunity to refresh everyone’s memory on what has been agreed upon. Have the agency discuss its development process and ways to ensure the project goes smoothly. Even if you have worked with the same agency before on prior projects, it is still worth reminding everyone of critical components of the engagement. There could be new people in your department, on the digital marketing agency’s account team, or if the last project was completed long ago.
- Accurate assumptions: A common reason for mistakes and errors is because of false assumptions masquerading as accurate beliefs. Since all decisions and actions are based on a preconceived set of assumptions, it is important to ensure they are accurate. Problems can be protracted and go undiscovered for long periods of time. The wrong presumptions can lead to misalignment and misunderstandings based on a different premise than first assumed. A long exchange of emails providing feedback or establishing a new direction can generate inaccurate assumptions when incorrectly interpreted or translated. As a rule of thumb, if it takes more than an exchange of three emails, pick up the phone. If after three emails you have any doubt about what has been agreed to or answered, talk it through. Email is not the best channel of communication when you need real-time feedback to establish a mutual understanding.
- File management: Access to files is important, but not a given. Different platforms, such as Microsoft SharePoint, may have security issues limiting what can be accessed by whom. If accessing files becomes an arduous process, projects can be delayed or even derailed. At the start of a project be sure that everyone knows what platform will be used for adding and exchanging files. Have the teams test it for themselves so no one runs into issues at a critical juncture of the project. Here are a few additional suggestions to help avoid losing time and effort.
- When adding new files to folders, ensure that they can easily be found, especially in folders filled with files within files.
- Keep only one source for all folders and files so the correct version of each file is available within one location.
- When anything new is added to an existing file, or in replacement of an existing file, send a link to the specified file instead of the entire folder. This approach saves time and ensures the accuracy of receipt. Too much of anything is not good so only keep active files visible and retrievable.
- If something is no longer relevant, delete or move it to a “parking lot” folder.
- Provide your agency with files in final format, and the format they request (if possible).
Project management plays a key role in most client-agency relationships. While factors that contribute to “slow creep” can be anticipated, they cannot be prevented 100% of the time. So, the key is in managing each one when identified as a potential issue. By being aware of “slow creep” type issues you could proactively help your digital marketing agency keep your projects on schedule and on budget.