Risk assessments make for a safe and healthy project

Businesses are used to completing risk assessments in the workplace whether they’re related to fire, security and health and safety but believe it or not, there’s tremendous value in completing risk assessments prior to commencing a creative project too.

It’s something we practice at The Dairy and we thought we would let you in on a few trade secrets to show how marketing-specific risk assessments can keep a creative project on track, within budget and to the satisfaction of all parties involved.


Identify how many stakeholders you need

The emphasis here is on the word need. Sometimes businesses or organisations feel the need to involve every department in a project – from briefing it into an agency to sending changes and signing it off. Does “too many cooks” ring a bell here?

Consistency and clarity are the best friends of any successful marketing campaign, project or relationship. Defining essential stakeholders from the outset makes everyone’s life easier and will ultimately garner clearer results. Even if a business must gain the approval of several people internally, having one single point of contact that can have the relationship with the agency can streamline processes considerably.

We practice this ourselves at The Dairy by defining our ‘dedicated team’ for any client prior to commencing work for them. Each client has one account manager – their sole point of contact for emails, phone calls and meetings. That account manager has the support of the wider team as and when required across different specialisms but it is their responsibility to liaise with the client and maintain transparent communication lines. Less is very much more.


Be mindful of scope creep

Setting out on any new marketing journey is an exploration into some sort of unknown – whether it’s the deliverables identified or the way both client and agency work. One thing that is common but avoidable is something called scope creep. Put simply, this is where a brief and list of deliverables are agreed for a project at the outset but then as the project progresses, the parameters are changed.

Moving goal posts mid-project usually leads to costly changes and in the worst case scenario, redefines what the entire project’s goals and objectives are. It really is cost effective (we will move onto time and money in more detail soon), to agree on goals, objectives and deliverables at the outset and stick to them. Unexpected costs and changes are never welcome for a client and if surprise changes to the plan are sprung on your agency, the bill is only going to go one way!


Time and money are always linked

Intrinsically linked to scope creep, time and money are as intertwined as the colours in a stick of Blackpool rock.

If a project changes direction mid-way through, a new feature is needed as part of a website build or a new deliverable is added into the mix at the eleventh hour of a campaign, this is naturally going to add to the cost.

We still see situations where businesses receive a quote for creative work, get going, and then decide to add a few more jobs into the mix further down the line while expecting the budget to remain the same. That would be like going to a restaurant, ordering a steak, paying for it and then ordering a dessert 30 minutes later expecting to receive it for free.

The real risk we’re getting at here is to know the goals and expectations from the start, agree these with your creative team and most importantly, stick to them. It makes everyone’s life easier and avoids awkward conversations about money later on.


Consider staff churn

It’s not something that’s impacted us much over the years, but it’s always worth being mindful of whether or not there could be a turnover of staff during a project timeline and if this will affect its delivery.

If a project lead or key contact is expected to go to pastures new or take a leave of absence at some point, it’s worth planning for this when scoping out the project to ensure consistency and clarity. Making someone else project lead from the start or having someone shadow the project lead to understand the deliverables can really contribute to a smooth delivery.

Sometimes departures come along unexpectedly and this can be unavoidable. But having a contingency plan in place as an organisation should this occur, is not a bad rabbit to be able to pull out of the creative project hat.


Cherry pick your third parties

Selecting the right third parties for any marketing campaign or project is vital within its wider success. As the agency, we take the time needed to source the right partners for our projects. Fortunately most of our services are in-house, but there are a few occasions where we need to partner across print, video and photography projects.

We consider the fit in terms of skill set but also the tone and style of the partner. Can they really get to grips with the brief and deliver the type of content we need, in the right way for the brand? Can they work within the budget identified and can they meet the quality expectations of ourselves and the client? Collaboration is the key to success when working alongside third parties and we’ve spent years finessing our list of preferred partners to ensure quality control as well as seamless delivery each and every time.

On the other hand, we sometimes work with a client where they already have a list of third parties in place and we simply ‘bolt on’ to provide additional services alongside them. We’re more than happy to work this way if required and any marketing agency worth its salt shouldn’t have an issue with new collaborations.


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