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Project Management: 6 Pitfalls When Starting A New Project

The start of a new project can be exciting. You've spent so many hours trying to get an assignment and you finally received an official GO from your client. Very exciting of course, but now you have to make sure that the project goes well and expectations are met. Otherwise, it will be your first and last project for this client. Often some preparatory work is required before you can get started. To make sure it all runs smoothly, here are 6 of the most common pitfalls to avoid when starting a new project.

Project Management: 6 Pitfalls When Starting A New Project

1. Not having clear agreements

The first project management pitfall at the start of a new project is when no clear agreements have been made. Both the client and the agency accepting the assignment have not precisely agreed upon what’s expected from each party, or what the deliverables will be. It is important for the start of a new project that it is clear who is responsible for what. Good agreements can make the difference between a project that's successful, and one that's a complete failure.

Creatives are often full of energy and passion for their profession, which means that they sometimes run too fast and therefore forget to lay down a good financial basis for the project. This can lead to not only the client but also the entire project team having many questions regarding the project, thus ensuring that the project team cannot work efficiently and that the end product is not achieved. This might cause you to lose a lot of money on the project.

In an order confirmation, you determine the height of the budget that is needed to realize a certain creative output. Both the client and the agency sign this order confirmation.


2. Not having an order confirmation and/or project plan

Clear agreements must always be made with your client. These agreements should always be recorded, so they can be referred to later. You make agreements with the client about:

  • The creative scope of the project

  • The costs of the project

  • The schedule

  • The resources that are deployed

  • Deliverables

  • The intellectual property: does it remain yours or is it transferred to the client?

All agreements and project components with the client should be described in the project plan. You always share this project plan with the client and once you’ve agreed on the deliverables and the budget, you ensure that it gets signed. Here you can find a number of templates you can download and use for free.

3. Not having clear agreements with the project team

In addition to making clear agreements with the client, it is also necessary to make clear agreements with your project team. For example, you want to determine who is responsible for a certain creative part of the project. Let's take a branding campaign for a department store as an example. You’ll come into contact with various creative elements such as logo design, sponsorship, PR, etc. For this, you need a properly functioning project team.

In order for the project team to function properly, it is important that everyone knows what their duties are, to prevent duplication of work or some tasks being left unattended. It is important to know what skills your team members have. For example, you won't let a backend developer write copy for the campaign advertisements. That’s why you want to make sure the tasks are always distributed correctly and that everyone knows what the overarching goal of the project is.

A project management tool is something that can be very useful within this process. If you have the right tool, you can give both the project team and the client insight into the status of the project. The client can see the progress of the project and the project team knows which tasks must be done. The project manager keeps an overview of the progress, deploying additional resources, or adjusting deadlines if necessary.

4. Not setting clear deadlines

Every project needs clear deadlines. Otherwise, you will never know if you are still on schedule. Experience tells us that a project without deadlines will never be completed. People need a certain "push" to actually get to work. Another pitfall is therefore that people sometimes forget to set these deadlines.

Setting the right deadlines is of great importance to ensure the success of a project. Good deadlines give direction to a project and make sure that it's not worked on endlessly. This ensures clarity for the members of the project team, who must contribute to the project. In addition, clear deadlines also indicate when the client can expect certain deliverables.

Bad deadlines

That said, there is such a thing as unrealistic deadlines. There are clients who want a lot, for very little money and as quickly as possible. Some clients expect that a full app can be realized within a week. Unrealistic deadlines often put a lot of pressure on the collaboration between the project team and the client.

In addition to deadlines that are simply not feasible, you also have deadlines that are too broad. You have probably heard things like "the new website should be finished sometime in October". We can tell you that there is a 99% chance this website will not be finished by the end of October. This is because the deadline has not been made specific enough. "Sometime in October" can be differently interpreted by everyone. Some define this as the beginning of October, and some as ultimately the last day of October.

Therefore, ensure that all deadlines are always made as specific as possible. We do not mean that you have to detail to the minute when something will be finished, but that you agree to specific dates on which deliverables are given to the client. This ensures clarity for both the project team and the client, generally resulting in a better process.

5. Forgetting to draw up a budget

It is important to know what budget is available for the project. Without a realistic budget, costs can rise to the point where the project is no longer profitable. Although it can be fun for creative people when money does not play a role, it is nevertheless important to define frameworks in which results can be delivered. Drawing up a budget is not a 100% guarantee for success, but it does help prevent financial failures. Budgeting is an essential tool for translating creative plans into specific, action-oriented plans and financial objectives.

Also read: 7 tips for making realistic budgets

With adequate project management, a budget gives direction to the project and ensures that the client can make an informed decision about whether to continue the project or shut it down. Strong budgeting allows you to accurately assess whether a project can be profitable. By doing this you’re taking the right steps to realize a successful project while avoiding financial failure.

6. Micromanaging everything

We have all been guilty of micromanaging. Meaning you pay too much attention to small details that ultimately don't contribute much to the final result. This term is often used to describe annoying managers who stand behind your desk every day to check if you're not watching YouTube videos. But in practice, we increasingly see people "micromanage" certain parts of their lives.

Unfortunately, this is also reflected in project management. There are people who find it difficult to hand over tasks and therefore take everything upon themselves. This never ends well and creates the risk that tasks are not completed properly or at all. Therefore, make sure you divide tasks in such a way that everyone has about the same amount of work. Lastly, also take the individual skills of the person into account.

Conclusion: The 6 project management pitfalls at the start of a new project

There is a lot involved with the start of a new project. You must ensure the project team has the overarching goal in mind and at the same time, you must keep the client happy. Sometimes it is difficult to keep track of everything yourself and you can use some help with your project management. That’s exactly why you need the right project management tool.

The Rodeo project management tool has all the functions you need to manage your projects. Start your free 14-day trial period today!

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