When you don’t have all the answers

I’ve had more than one client come to me in a state of overwhelm about a big project. “I’m not even sure yet what I need you to do for me. I just know I need help,” they said. We could have gone ‘round and ‘round trying to define a very specific scope of work, but the reality is that we couldn’t, because we didn’t know what we didn’t know. 

guess what? you can still take the first step.

Here are two ways you can move your project forward, even when you’re not sure exactly what that final product should look like. They worked for me, and got two new projects (with two new clients) up and running in no time. 

  • Keep it loose
    Draft a loose description of the services you think you’ll need, and establish a shared understanding with your service provider of what would generally fall inside and outside those parameters. If you are hiring a project manager, for example, does that scope include managing other team members or other service providers? This approach works best when you have an established relationship, or at least a very strong mutual rapport (i.e. you “speak the same language”).
  • Keep it small
    Break the project into small pieces that you can dole out incrementally with minimal risk. This allows you to tightly define the scope, limit your financial investment, and test the water before committing to a larger contract. If you’re redesigning a large website, for example, you might start with a discovery phase that results in a competitive analysis and recommended sitemap before moving on to content creation and design development. This works well with new partners you haven’t worked with before, or with existing partners who are serving you in a new capacity.

keep it loose or keep it small—either way, you win!

When your scope is loosely defined, be prepared for costs to be estimated as a range in accordance with the number of variables involved. This allows you some flexibility as the work product becomes more clear, without having to renegotiate every single modification along the way.

When your scope is small, you have the benefit of incremental pricing for any future phases of the project, giving you the opportunity to gain comfort and confidence before making bigger cost commitments.

one foot in front of the other…

If you have a project you know you need help with, let’s talk about how we can get it moving forward, one step at a time.

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