A fellow community member (Hey, Adam!) posted an interesting infographic for Surviving the E-Learning Revision Apocalypse over at e-learning heroes, and it made my day and struck a chord, so I thought it might be a good time to discuss what you can do to make your revisions go as smoothly (and cost-effectively) as possible! There were so many great points that they honestly bear repeating.
Everyone (regardless of your profession) has likely encountered the dreaded revision cycle or has come to a point of project rework. This can be a painful experience, but you need to set yourself up for success. As the infographic indicates, the number one way to ensure you don’t get caught up in endless revisions is to dictate and define your revision scope. Some individuals dictate which types of revisions are included and which are out of scope; however, I find it easiest to dictate a revision limit and outline the associated daily rate for each additional set of revisions. For me, this has worked well – clients generally get the brunt of their revisions worked out in the first iteration of their review, and while they may not balk at the daily rate for additional revisions, it usually keeps them within scope and reality. Let’s face it – without defining the terms of your revisions, you may get locked into an entire project re-development – who knows! It sounds scary and I don’t like it, so I cover my butt and you should too!
Another essential element within your contract should be to outline the revision deadlines and how they are to be communicated to you. Time and again I have had multiple reviewers look at a project and send 487932423 different documents outlining their revisions. The last thing you want to do is be faced with consolidating those revisions. This will yield a lot of work and likely a lot of redundancy between reviewers. What I like to do is provide my clients with a change log; here they are able to track all of the necessary revisions in one place – all neat and tidy. Then come revision time, I don’t feel compelled to bang my head repeatedly off my keyboard (or maybe I just do this less, depending on the revisions required).
Thoroughly review all deliverables. I cannot stress this enough – it’s going to save you a lot of time and headache AND it makes you look more professional. Sometimes it can be really hard to review our own work, especially when you’ve been looking at one document or project for so long – you may need a fresh set of eyes. In this case, I recommend having someone you trust give it the once over for basics like spelling and grammar…or if you don’t have that luxury, close the project, refresh your mind, and review a few hours later.
If there are multiple members on a project, ensure there is a clearly defined team lead; after reviewing your work, it should be submitted to the team lead for their input. All team members will submit their work to the team lead, and this will ensure consistency in look and feel. Once revisions come rolling in, it is important for the team to have a meeting to discuss all comments. It has been my experience working on teams that a reviewer may comment on one element in one place and expect a global change. Without meeting to discuss these ‘global changes’, there will inevitably be more revisions down the line. And you might cry. And your project manager might whine about deadlines and resources. No one wants either of those things, so please…go forth and meet with the minds. Share now or cry later.
Last but not least (and to reiterate my first point), be aware of project scope. Be very aware. If it is the one thing you do 150%, be cognizant of your project scope. Clients like to ask for things, and I want a pony, but I’m not getting one. I’ll liken scope creep to the difference between feeding a 38lb border collie and feeding a 150lb Bernese mountain dog. Today I went to pick up pet food; there was a Bernese mountain dog (and its owner) in the store. On the counter, there was the Bernese mountain dog’s food – 6 raw ‘medallions’ 1lb each with a price tag of 56 bucks on it, and when I asked how many feedings that was, the response was “well, we only give her one a day”…okay so 6 days at 56 bucks…We pay 27 bucks for 2.5 weeks of food for our 38lb border collie. MUCH more cost effective. Ashley – Where the hell are you going with this? Well – your client may be paying to feed the border collie (e.g. what they agreed to pay you), but come revision time, they ask you to feed the Bernese mountain dog (e.g. scope creep). DO NOT FEED THE BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG! If you do, you will lose a lot of your profits.