With the wide range of project delivery options now available, from freelance portals through to a myriad of design and development firms, more and more companies are electing to perform the full project delivery cycle online. For experienced operators, setting up a project online is a methodical task that has been performed numerous time. But for newer players in the market, the apparent ease of setting up a project online belies a greater complexity that must be considered.
It is important to remember the following when setting up a new project online:
Without the above, you increase the risk of project failure and reputation damage.
Remember, in the online world, your service providers may not be located close to you. You may not even know what they look like. Unless you are prepared to get on a plane and fly halfway across the world, you may never be able to meet face to face to resolve project issues.
Your Written Brief
Make it absolutely clear what you expect from the project. List the deliverables in an itemised manner and clearly articulate what they are.
For example, if you are setting up a project for website design and development, you can choose to articulate the graphic design component of the project as:
“I need all graphics for the website created” this leaves things wide open to scope change and
A more appropriate summary of the graphics requirements would be:
“I need all graphics for the website created which will include:
This will demonstrate to your service provider that you are committed and detail oriented.
If you are unsure of the requirements, or are relying on full creative inputs from the service provider, you can still demonstrate this with a requirement like this:
“As part of the website design process, I am expecting to engage with you to understand the graphic design requirements to ensure that cost and quality are not compromised”.
A detailed brief makes it clear not only what you are expecting to receive, it also gives the service provider the opportunity to respond clearly and tell you what they are expecting to deliver. Aligning these two points is important if you want to avoid delivery misses or cost overruns.
The agreement between you and the service provider needs to be watertight. Wherever possible, articulate every deliverable including timelines. Align the deliverables outlined in your brief to the deliverables contained in the service agreement.
But, to be brutally honest, this is not enough. When I say the “strength of the agreement”, I refer to an element frequently overlooked in the world of online project delivery: Mutual Benefit.
To create a strong agreement between two parties, there must be mutual benefit. All the time.
Too often do I see job postings online for projects with only what I can say is outrageous demands, either in terms of scope of delivery and time allowed and/or available budget. I have no hesitation in performing small pieces of work for clients, in fact they can be great to build partnerships, but what I will not do is compromise our project delivery because the very fabric of the agreement itself is placed in jeopardy by unrealistic delivery expectations. If there is not something in the project for all parties, then something has to give. Quality goes first, profit margin not far behind that, eroded team morale the deciding factor which can carry on well after the current project is done.
If you are posting a job online and you are seeking the lowest possible cost only, do you really understand what you are signing up for? Imagine a website design project you post for say $200.
Sounds like a great price for you, but what is happening behind the scenes?
Wherever possible, seek mutual benefit. You will attract a better quality service provider, get better project outcomes and also contribute more positively in the online marketplace.
Interaction and Engagement
If you get the service agreement right, you need to live and breathe transparency during the life of the project. Both in terms of how you communicate with your project teams and in what you expect in return.
Key lessons in engaging your project teams are: