There is some truth to saying that all Instructional Design requires some amount of project management; however, some roles require more project management than others. In a previous life, I was fortunate enough to have project managers who would deal with all the more frustrating client communications and assert their dominance, but now I’m foraging my own path as an Independent Contractor and I’m finding that I wear the Project Manager hat a bit more often than I’d like to – but it’s necessary.
Today I’m going to be discussing tips for managing your Instructional Design projects and the corresponding client. Hold on to your hats! You’re going to quickly notice a theme.
Tip # 1 – Communicate!
This may seem like an obvious thing to do, but the reality is that a lot of people don’t communicate effectively or enough. When beginning a new project, it is essential to discuss all project requirements with your client and THEN draft a Statement of Work or contract. This document will outline everything from project requirements to deadlines to payment to what will happen if the client initiates project delays, etc. You must detail EVERYTHING in this document. An important aspect often overlooked within a contract is a section on communication and how the client is to communicate with you, when they can expect a response, etc. Your client needs to know that they’re not the only client you have. You’ll be respectful of their time and they should be respectful of yours.
So the project has begun and you’re confused about something. Instead of spending days troubleshooting and trying to find a solution, ask your client – they may provide a simple solution, ask your colleagues – they may be able to help, and ask the internet – it’s one of our greatest resources.
Tip # 2 – Be Clear with Your Expectations
This goes hand-in-hand with Tip #1. In all of your communications, be very clear. Do not be wishy washy. Make decisions, and stand by these decisions. Including these expectations within your Statement of Work or Contract is a smart idea as doing so allows you to refer back to this signed document anytime the client starts moving toward scope creep or going back on their original agreement. Contracts can be always be amended, but they need to be mutually agreed upon.
Tip # 3 – Assert Yourself!
Now this one can be tricky for a lot of people. I have a hard time asserting myself and tend to prefer to go above and beyond to please my clients. However, going above and beyond is fine – so long as it’s in your contract. If it’s not in your contract and it’s going to add time on to your process, you need to let your client know and assert yourself by explaining that you can do X, but it will be an additional charge. It also helps if you explain this in your contract by indicating that any work above and beyond the work outlined in the contract will be billed at your hourly/daily/weekly rate of X. If scope creep begins to occur, you can refer your client back to their contract and they won’t be surprised – here they can decide whether the work is in fact required, or whether they can do without the additional work.
Bonus Tip: Learn from Your Mistakes
This is an important one! If you don’t learn from your past mistakes, you will likely keep making them. This will likely create more aggravation than good, so don’t be too proud to admit to your own mistakes.
For more tips, check out my mentor’s site: Lea-p.com