Project planning matters, because each project is unique. “Templates”, “stock photography”, and “boilerplate” are derogatory terms. Your clients expect new.
Yet, new is scary. Your client need you to make their project less scary. That is why they ask for proposals, and why project plans are so important. Refine your project plans and proposals and you will sell more, get better projects, and have few project management issues.
Projects are optional. Even if you and the buyer see the project as essential, a project by definition is outside of normal operations. The business — a group of people — have to decide that the project is worth doing. With an accurate project plan, you can have decisions about the deliverables, the costs, and the estimated ROI.
Projects are risky. Projects aren’t products — they are custom. While you are confident in your abilities, business are buying services that are invisible and non-transferable. There is not test drive, or 30 day demo. They are giving you money, and hoping they get good results. The work you did for one business, doesn’t apply to the next.
To make matters worse, businesses aren’t used to buying your service. They don’t know what is quality work, how to judge results, or what the process will be. This scray — remember working with your accountant or lawyer.
Project plans make you less scary. Provide your clients with a clear project plan so they know what they are hiring you for, what the process will be, and what results to expect.
Influence. You are selling to a business: a group of people. Once you leave, your buyer gets bombarded by coworkers, vendors, and customers. They bring new opportunities, and new problems. It can be a hassle, but you need to help manage this chaos. You sell both your consulting abilities, and technical skills.
Quickly providing a clear project plan, can help manage this chaos. Keep the vision clear, and the plan memorable.
In addition, project planning is essential for agency profitability. In fact, it is the main thing that separates freelancers and agencies is time management. For Freelancers time equal profits. For Agencies time equals costs — let’s explore.
Freelancers work and get paid. Their focus is on maximizing time available to work.
Agencies bid projects and get paid. Each project creates revenue, but it is up to the agency to complete the project profitably. This creates a requirement to manage how employees spend their time.
Managing an agency is about managing the possible profit. Each project starts with a guarantee of revenue, an estimate of costs, and a probability of profit. At the beginning of a project there are a wide range of possible outcomes, as the project progress the range of outcomes narrows. The key: time management — both in plan and execution.
In conclusion, creating proposals and project plans can be so frustrating. It can feel insulting to work for the possibility of revenue. However, project planning is essential. It will help you win better projects more frequently, and help you increase your profits.