5 Tips to Prevent Your Projects from Getting Derailed

crashed wooden toy trainEach one of us in the business world interacts with numerous people every day; from vendors and prospects, to customers and co-workers. Meetings are held and decisions are made, and most of the time, we hope each project that comes from it will turn-out as planned. However, all too often as an Account Executive at an advertising agency, I’m reminded that that is not always the case.

Recently we worked with a new vendor to print boxes for a direct mail campaign. While placing the order on their website there was a note that stated the company overruns most of their jobs and the customer is responsible for the added cost. Our client had a tight budget and no additional boxes were needed, so to ensure an overrun wasn’t done, I called the company to see what preventative steps could be taken. I was told the particular product type I was ordering typically does not have an overrun and to simply write the request to exclude it in the comments field of the shopping cart.

I placed my order and took their required steps. After I did so, I received an e-mail from the company confirming the total purchase price, which did not include the added price of an overrun. Thinking I had taken the necessary precautions, I proceeded with the project. Weeks later the final invoice came and added to the total amount due was an additional charge for an overrun of the job.

While I had taken the necessary steps, I had no e-mail from the person who I had spoken with confirming the steps I took would prevent an overrun and therefore the additional charge. These types of things happen and when they do, they can derail your entire project. To help you ensure that due diligence is always paid, below are 5 tips to help your projects run smoothly from start to finish.

  1. Capture the Details Immediately – Sending out a detailed summary that contains key dates and action items right after a meeting or conversation. It can save you from trying to remember what was discussed, who is doing what, or what your deadlines are.
  2. Receive Written Confirmation…Every Time – Verbal agreements are great, but always ask for an e-mail confirming your discussion, to ensure you have confirmation of what the person or company guaranteed.
  3. Bring in a Second Set of Eyes – Ask a team member who’s involved in the project to take a look at proofs or orders before they are placed. This stop gap will ensure anything that might have been missed initially is caught.
  4. Develop and Adhere to a Strict Time Line – This will ensure all details are fresh and that no additional time is needed to pick things back up again. Ensure all key players, including vendors, are aware of the time frame from the beginning. You will have to be flexible at some point during the project, but make that the exception rather than the rule.
  5. Take More Time Up-Front – Take the time up-front to research all avenues of the project, plan for a variety of situations, and map out all details. The more time you take up-front, the more time it could save you in the long run.

Taking the time to follow these tips can help ensure that everyone involved in your project is on the same page, has clear expectations, and can help your project from getting derailed.