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When Projects Get Scary, & How to Save Them

It’s the time of year for scary movies, jack-o-lanterns, mystery novels, and ghost tours! It’s also busy season for us HighRockers as we look towards the end of the year, and the projects that need to wrap up before 2020.

As these end-of-year projects kickoff, or draw to a close, we’re planning every detail to a tee to make every project a success. But what are a few things that could make a well-planned project turn a little scary? I asked our Marketing Executives what they might hear that will send a shiver down their spine.

“There is no scope of work.”

Out of all of these scary phrases, this one gives me actual chills. It’s right up there with “let’s just wing it.”

In a nutshell, a scope of work (SOW) is a written plan of the work to be done on a project. It will typically include a description of the work, a timeline, deliverables, and a budget to help get everyone on the same page.

How to Survive: The solution here seems pretty simple - we create a scope of work! Check. That. Box!

If you do find yourself rueing the day that a scope of work was missed - even on an internal project - don’t fret! It’s never too late to get everyone on the same page. Take a deep breath, put your project manager hat on, and follow these steps:

  1. Take the lead! You can be the problem-solver even if you’re not the decision-maker.
  2. Address the monster problem head-on.
  3. Create clarity between everyone involved.
  4. Follow up, and follow through.
  5. Learn from the experience. What was missed this time that we will make darn sure we do next time?

“Does anyone have any feedback?”

This phrase might not evoke immediate fright. Feedback is necessary to make a great final product, right? Right!

Picture this scenario:

You’re working with a small team assigned to create a new logo for your organization. You’ve vetted designers, discussed color schemes and design elements, seen a few options, made some edits, and landed on a great new brand identity.

Now it’s time to present the new logo to the board of directors, and the Marketing Director says, “Does anyone have any feedback”?

What you will probably find is yes, of course there will be feedback! Just when you were ready to send that direct-mail piece to the printer...with the new logo on it. Yikes.

How to Survive: With projects that have multiple stakeholders, getting buy-in at key moments during development is crucial for a smooth road and a successful project. Instead of waiting until you have a final, or nearly-there product, get stakeholder buy-in from the start. Make sure your team has identified all stakeholders - who has the final say, and who needs to provide input. Then, when it’s time to present the final product, make it the “ta-da!” moment it should be.

“I’ll know it when I see it.”

We get it! Design is subjective, and not everyone knows exactly what they want from the start. A big part of how we work as “an extension of your team” is helping to articulate what works for your business. This starts with a little thing we like to call the Discovery Phase.

How to Survive: Instead of jumping into design and figuring out what works from there, we’ll work together to figure out what your needs are, and what visual elements align with those needs.

First we’ll determine what you don’t like. Once we have an idea of styles and elements that are not in the cards, we have a piece of the puzzle to get us started. Next, we can ask questions to discover your preferences. What do you like that you’ve used before? What have you seen from other businesses that you think work?

Before you know it, we have a solid direction for your project, and you’ll “see it” in no time!


Have a project you need to get going? Contact us with your great idea!