If you are a lone freelancer, then you are the mother, father, sister and creepy uncle to the project. Everything goes through you. If you run a small firm with several people in different roles, you will quickly find that you need one enforcer: a project manager. Many consider this position to be superfluous, that the project would be just fine if all parties involved just did what they were supposed to do. But having someone track changes and monitor progress helps to prevent delays and tighten slack. The project manager should be the only point of contact with the client. No one else should speak with the client… or make eye contact for that matter.
There is a good reason for this. Whether by accident or malicious intent, the client could call one day and speak with a programmer or designer and ask how long before the project is “more or less ready.” This is a vague question, and if the programmer expects the final mock-up to be ready in a couple of days and the project to be completed a couple of weeks later, they will say so. But that would leave the client confident that the website will be done in a couple of weeks at most—and if it isn’t, they will start asking questions completely unrelated to the project’s scope, like why the estimate doesn’t match the number of hours rendered thus far. That’s not very helpful and happens much too often.
Then there are those staffers who underestimate and overpromise, tossing off careless messages and alarming the client. Quite often you will need to explain away false promises without embarrassing any of the parties involved. Such missteps shouldn’t be a part of the professional communication between clients and creatives to begin with.
The easy solution is to instruct everyone on staff, from the receptionist to the janitor, not to speak with the client. If the client calls or emails, they should say that the project manager will contact them to address all of their questions and concerns. Period.
If you lose control of one aspect of the project, everything else will fall. A website is a delicate surgery involving many doctors and OR staff. If the Three Stooges join in, hilarity will ensue for all… except the patient.
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