Tag: Communication

25 Nov 2017

9 Great Points on Scope Creep

Some of you may have heard of the terrible thing we call Scope Creep, and others may not have. As a quick over-view, Scope Creep is what happens when you have a well-defined Scope of Work, a set timeline, things are going great, and little by little extra things are added in to the project. The client asks nicely, the designer willingly does the extra work, and then BAM, the designer is angry with the client, the client doesn’t like the new bill, and what seemed to be a great project has now turned into a burning pile of ash. What happened? Scope Creep. Now, some could argue that Scope Creep benefits the client because they are getting more for their money, and the only loser is really the designer. This would be a poor argument. Here are 3 reasons why Scope Creep is bad for everyone, not just the designer.

  • The Timeline. We’ve talked about how to set a timeline here, but what happens to your timeline when you add more stuff to a scope? The project gets longer. This affects everyone, and not in a good way. Expectations are no longer met for either party, and when expectations are broken, relationships break down. Keeping the relationship between client and designer defined and working smoothly means the project can proceed smoothly.
  • Loss of Focus. Having a Scope of Work in the first place is what defines the project and tells everyone what should be focused on. When you start messing with that, without taking a pause to look at the entire picture, you can easily derail a project and get to a point where it will end up costing everyone more time and money to get back on track.
  • Costs. With good designers, many of us protect ourselves and companies from scope creep with clauses that state work outside of the scope document will be charged extra, and we’re always clear when something is going to cost extra. Some designers are not as up front about this, and will happily keep doing extra work, then send a final bill to the client who now is paying possibly thousands of dollars more than agreed upon. This of course causes problems all over.

In the end, Scope Creep costs both parties time, money, or both in the form of delays or extra billings. The easiest way to deal with changes is to make sure an official change order is created, which requires both parties to discuss what the change is, and possible effects it may have to a design.
There are several ways you can handle possible scope creep situations. Designers each have their own ways of handling it, but for us, it’s about 3 things:

  • Expectations. These are guided start to finish, starting with explaining the process to a client, start to finish. Expectations are the biggest component of starting any relationship, and keeping it. Understanding what is expected of both the client and the designer is very important.
  • Scope of Work. This is required for every project we take on, and discussed here. Not only does it help expectations, it lays out specific deliverables, and sets a timeline. I cannot over emphasize the necessity of having such a document.
  • Clear Communication. Communication is important with anything. When scope creep starts to show up, the only way to effectively stop it and keep things moving smoothly is communication. Sometimes things are not understood at the beginning of a project, and there needs to be a conversation to go over what was decided at the beginning of the project. Without effective communication, no relationship will last.

While these all happen when using a good designer, here are a couple of things you can do to help make sure scope creep doesn’t happen.

  • Know What You Want. It sounds simple, but we’ve spoken with many people who didn’t know exactly what they wanted from their project. Knowing what success looks like to you and what you want and even how you’d like to feel at the end of the project makes it easier for a project roadmap to be made in the form of a scope of work.
  • Ask Questions. And ask them at the very beginning. You should understand the process, how your designer works, fees, expectations, timeline, and deliverables before you sign a proposal or start the project fully. We’ve run into a lot of situations where a client didn’t ask a question early on, for one reason or another, and that one question helped them understand something that changed the entire process.
  • Value Your Time. Every time you want to change the scope, add something, or in some way begin to start Scope Creep, whether you know it or not, costs everyone time, including you.

 Keeping these things in mind, and making sure your designer does too, is a great starting point to getting the most out of your project and your designer.

22 Nov 2017

3 Must Haves When Creating a Project Timeline

Timelines. We all need them, but even the best of us don’t get them right every time. How do we create realistic timelines that don’t sound outrageous? Well, it all depends on who is looking at them. Experienced designers can usually look at a project and have a pretty good idea on how long a project might take to design with barely any thought and be right. For a non-designer to make that same estimate is nearly impossible, I’ve trained sales people on how to sell Industrial Design, and it took a lot of training to get someone unfamiliar with this process to be able to accurately quote a timeframe for a project.
There is no magic formula that lets anyone estimate a project as well as a seasoned designer, I’ve looked. And almost any schedule is possible, if you have the funds to pay for it. There are a few things that you should always make sure are known before discussing a timeline. If a designer gives you a timeline and is missing one of these elements, then their estimate will probably be off.

  • Fully Defined Scope of Work. We’ve gone over this previously here, but it really is very important that before you get a timeline from a designer, or before you begin to create your own, you know exactly everything that is going to go into and come out of the project.
  • Response Time from You, the Client. Any good designer can estimate how long they will take to respond, but did they specify how quickly they expect a response from you? When they wrote the timeline, they might have assumed you would be responding within two days, but maybe you have such a busy schedule that it will take at least a week or more before you can review a design that was sent to you. This expectation is very important, and can derail a timeline quickly.
  • Project Hours. This is how long the designer says they are going to take to make the project happen. This gives you the number of hours that will be worked, but not over what duration. This number is also something that unless you have design experience that matches the designer you are hiring, is not a point that is very arguable.

If you and your designer have these three items, then a viable timeline can be created by the designer. It’s always good to give them your gut feeling on this, we prefer our clients give us an idea of what they think it should take. Remember, everything is negotiable as long as you only choose two of the iron triangle to be fixed. Time, Quality, and Cost make up the iron triangle. You can have a fast and high-quality project, but the cost will not be controllable. So, choose wisely which two you care about the most.
Our experience with delays is that a lot of time is lost in getting responses from clients on a revision. While a project may have started out with a one week response time for each revision, when that gets pushed to one and a half weeks, and there are a total of 10 revision points through different phases of a project, that’s an extra 5 weeks on a project that should have only taken say 15 weeks to complete, which makes for a 30% increase in your timeline. No one likes that kind of increase.

06 Nov 2017
Peterman Design Firm Concept vs Design Blog

Concept vs Design

When talking to a designer, it helps to be able to speak the same language. The two terms that have caused the most confusion between clients and their designers are concept and design. There could be a lengthy argument for when each word should be used, or even that they are interchangeable. However, defining a word’s meaning can help make sure the right conversation is had.
To put it simply; a concept is a starting point, or an idea.  Concepts come in many different forms including 3D models, sketches, renders, verbal or written descriptions, a scribble, a single sentence, models, or animations. The range of options we have at our disposal to convey concepts are vast. Concepts do not have to exist in reality, they can push the envelope of reality and go places we can’t yet.
Designs are concepts that have developed blueprints and fully defined instructions. A good example from the gaming world would be that the description of a game is the concept, the code that makes the game work is its blueprint, and the game experience is the design. This doesn’t mean that a design is final. Most designs go through revisions and changes, but no descent design remains vague.  A good design is complete enough that every detail has been accounted for and exists in a measurable and definable way. Designs are rooted in the here and now, they follow current technologies and our understanding of physics. There are always “blue-sky projects” the leading edge of design that follows our craziest concepts and pushes us forward, but the majority of design sits comfortably in the achievable realm.
At the Peterman Design Firm we follow this: a concept is any idea not ready for production and a design is one that is. We, along with many designers, work through the entire process, concept to production. In order to go to production, you need a design, in order to create a design, you need a concept, in order to create a concept, you need an idea. We facilitate concepts, designs, and every step in between.

Connect with us to turn your idea into reality.