Who doesn’t want their projects delivered on time and on budget? That appeal is made so often that it has basically become business background-noise. Of course those are imperatives in any project. The ability to meet (or, ideally exceed) project delivery expectations is something any worthwhile agency leadership team already understands. Here’s the real question: How does an agency actually create the culture, climate, and capability for project delivery optimization to occur?
It all begins with ensuring maximum project and resource-management efficiency. Landing the business is, arguably, the easy part. Now it’s time to execute, and if systems and procedures aren’t smooth, delivery is sure to suffer. Invest in exceptional project delivery and the payback in talent retention, client satisfaction, and profitability is sure to speak for itself.
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As noted in a recent CIO magazine article, “Organizations that use proven project management practices waste 28x less money than their more haphazard counterparts.” That definitely sounds like it’s worth the time and effort to attain. Let’s clarify a workable, six-step approach to project delivery optimization that’s going to get results:
1. Review your ongoing processes
Having the clearest possible picture of your internal project and resource management processes is imperative. A rigorous audit and evaluation of every phase, at every level, helps agency leadership understand team time commitment, spot potential conflicts and over-booking, and accurately allocate resources. Monthly reports (at a minimum) and consistent invoicing are also critical to improve cash flow and maintain awareness of workflow.
2. Confirm a precise scope of work
Scope-creep can be the scourge of agency resource management and budget margin maintenance. Any agency team has to become proficient in getting clients to be crystal clear and ultra-specific with their project needs and expectations. Furthermore, adhering to these needs and expectations has to be top priority with the agency team. Along with expected steps like a signed Statement of Work, steps to check over-servicing can and should be baked into the workflow process.
3. Set your project budget
The most obvious step for many agencies can be the most challenging. Often, the budget is established too soon, undervaluing true effort and thus costing agencies considerable revenue. On a firm foundation of smart project and resource management, however, it is possible to build a precise picture of actual cost, which means more profitable pricing.
4. Establish the right project team
Talent, from leadership to account management to creative, has to consist of the best possible people for every project. That sounds like another obvious point, but it can really only be effective if an agency has a rock-solid sense of every team-member’s strengths and areas of expertise. Knowing who is best for every role in a project lineup, making sure they can easily communicate, and facilitating seamless client interaction is the result of smart talent-retention and team-building strategies that have become essential to agency culture.
5. Kick off the project and get everybody aligned
As the old proverb goes, “Well begun is half done.” That makes the project kickoff the marquee opportunity to demonstrate just how professional and proficient your team works. This is where an agency team confirms deliverables, clarifies roles and responsibilities, and sets a timeline that gets client contacts in harmony. It is understood, but let’s say it anyway: having the right people in the room, especially during sessions specific to their respective project phases, is necessary.
6. Follow up with progress management
After kickoff, managing progress is the priority mission. Regularly scheduled team meetings followed by transparent client updates have to be in place in order to maintain accurate overall project visibility and status. The agency team and client alike can’t presume an initiative will roll forward organically based solely on a successful kickoff; momentum is best maintained with the informed oversight and guidance that only comes from a rigorous, involved progress management approach.
We’re convinced that these six steps constitute a near-foolproof approach to project delivery optimization, and these summaries are just an introduction to their effectiveness. To get the whole story, download Deltek’s Agency Roadmap here!
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