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August 29, 2016

Understanding time / schedule when working with Forum

We’re often asked by existing and prospective clients, “How long will this take to complete?”

It is our responsibility to accurately, and effectively, answer this question. When working with an agency like Forum, there are a number of things that go in to determining project deliverables and appropriate timeframe to complete said items.

Great projects are the result of realistic expectations, honest timelines and an understanding that we’re working to get it right, not just to get it done. Keep this in mind: the top watchmakers spend upwards of two years to make a SINGLE watch. Why? Because this level of dedication to craftsmanship ensures that the watch will work, flawlessly, for decades to come. Our approach is no different.

Our approach is no different. We do our research. We take our time to get it right. We build plans, because if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The word “rush” typically comes about in a client’s vocabulary because something went wrong at some point in the process. And while we always strive to please clients on any timeline, projects that are rushed often leave us both feeling awkward.

The first thing that we discuss with clients centers on any internal deadlines that they may have, such as an impending trade show, an open house event or a new product/service launch. Once we know your needs, we can better determine a plan of action.

Next, we want to review the actual deliverables and set a schedule of activities that will guide our efforts. We work “backwards” from the target completion date, so that there are individual milestones along the way that we can both be aware of.

There are times when we’re working, times when we’ll need your feedback and/or approval and then times where items may be with a printer. All of these “hands” will require lead time and communication time, and certainly impact the finished product.

Feedback from our clients is critical in determining when it’s acceptable to move on to the next milestone. If you love it, say so; if you don’t love it, explain why and what could be improved. We love making our clients happy and getting things right, so it’s hard for us to hear, “It’s not bad, but not what I had in mind,” if there isn’t any more “meat” in the feedback. What did you have in mind? After all, we’re marketers, not mind readers.

Approval is just that: it means you love what we’ve done with a particular piece of the engagement and want us to move forward with the project. Until you “love” something and are 100% happy with what you’re seeing, we don’t need to proceed. If we do, it will only hurt us both in the end.

Possibly the most important factor is understanding that the question “How long will this take to complete” is actually two-fold: the first item has to do with the deadline that everything will be completed by, and the other is the actual number of hours it will take to complete the project.

We’ve had experience, to date, with more than 120 unique clients across 50+ industries and a plethora of needs. Our estimates are pretty accurate, based on our past experience of 35,000+ hours dedicated to client projects since Forum’s inception. We’re here to work with you and for you, to help you find your voice in a crowded marketplace.

Article written by Matt Dubnik, Chief Engagement Officer.