It is pretty safe to say that everyone’s job, no matter what, is an ever-changing to-do list: juggling priorities with eyes on the endgame.
As Programme Manager at The Creative Engine, Kirstie Emery knows better than most that communication, keeping track and setting goals at the outset are key to delivering successful products that meet clients’ requirements.
“Not long ago, we were working with a financial services provider,” she explains. “GDPR was in the headlines and the company was looking to improve compliance. Naturally, this was a concern, as being caught out could have landed it with a hefty fine, so you would have imagined it would have prioritised a short deadline.”
What actually happened surprised everyone.
Kirstie says: “It pushed the deadline back by many weeks, making it one of the longest projects on our books.”
Why? Because the client had recognised that where GDPR was concerned, getting things right was more important than getting them done quickly.
Enter the project triangle
Fortunately, it was clear to The Creative Engine team that this was where the client’s priorities lay from the very beginning. This is because each new project is focused around a simple tool that will keep it on track, right through to delivery.
The tool is a conceptual triangle, with budget, scope and deadline as its three points. Only one of these can be prioritised on a project and this is discussed and agreed with the client right at the start. For the financial company, it was scope – the product’s content – that the financial services client had elevated above all else.
“Of course, priorities can change,” Kirstie acknowledges. “That is why we need to keep checking in with the client. They might have come to the end of the financial year and no longer have the budget to satisfy the scope they had previously prioritised. Or they might have been so impressed by the early builds they have been signing off, that they are happy to compromise on a previously unmoveable deadline to allow for a broader scope.”
However, as Programme Manager, having the project triangle in mind helps Kirstie make the best decisions on her clients’ behalf when they can’t be sitting right next to her.
A tool for creativity
The Creative Engine adopted the project triangle over 5 years ago in an effort to reduce documentation, aide client understanding of how projects work – and make itself more agile and responsive.
Kirstie explains: “We used to ask our sales team to write a business case for each project. It was document-heavy and time consuming, and not entirely necessary so we decided a fresh approach was needed – What were the key things we and the client needed for a successful project? It was obvious that the answer lay in the project triangle. You don’t need a long list of what the business benefits are for the client, but you do need to know whether they need it quickly, cheaply, or to have a certain amount of scope.”
But what if the client can’t decide where its priorities lie, and it insists that a project really must be delivered on time – to a set budget? It is possible, says Kirstie, but it requires compromises elsewhere.
“It calls for very careful planning and agreement. We might ask them to feedback on an update within 12 hours, or they might not be able to make any change requests once the project has been agreed. In short, we have to remove a contingency or two if we are going to deliver the project within the very tight constraints they have defined. Some clients really appreciate this pushback as it gives them time and, in the end, more control over the project development.”
The triangle is an aid to discussion, and an aid to running the project once those discussions are over.
“It helps both us and the client,” Kirstie says. “Ultimately, it’s a win, win… win.”
To find out how the project triangle can bring your product or promotion to fruition, whatever your budget, scope or deadline, call Kirstie’s team at The Creative Engine on 01483 799 200, or email email@example.com