#11 Should you take on that project?


Jon is joined by Tom from Lighthouse London to talk about the filter process they both go through when deciding to take on or pitch for a specific piece of work or project. 

The list of criteria discussed is not meant to be a prescriptive list we believe every agency should abide by, it’s just a discussion of the criteria that we run through when making those decisions and hopefully there are points that encourage or inspire others.  

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Below is a quick list of the main points covered:

Repeat business
If you do one type of project well you’ll get other clients in a similar field asking you to help them in a similar way. So you need to ask yourself would you want to do this type of project again?

Do you have the skills needed?
You need to ensure you’ve got the necessary skills to take on the job. Never take on a job that is out of your comfort zone unless you have made is explicitly clear the client this is the case. If you hide this from the clients you are making a huge gamble on both getting paid and also your future reputation. 

If your plate is too full, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Also if it’s too large for you to take on.

Conflict of interest with existing client?
If you’re still working with a client who might see this new client as a potential competitor, then you should not work with them both. Check if you are unsure. 

Moral conflicts?
Do what feels right. We don’t do gambling stuff for example. 

Does the client seem like the kind of person you might get on with?
We would never take on work without meeting the people. Worst case video chat. Try to get a sense of the type of person they are from communications and gut feel.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a reference to follow up on from another service provider who has worked with the client before.

An ideal client should be...

  • Knowledgeable & passionate about their industry

  • Organised and available

  • Understand to the creative process and be receptive to new ideas being introduced and establish conventions being challenged

  • Have confidence in their own decision making ability

Budget constraints (and time below)
Find out the project budget (or range) before investing a lot of time in a response and if the budget is to low to achieve what you feel is a good job, be completely honest and tell the client that. This is also a tactical way to back out of projects you might not want to do (“sounds like you can’t afford us”). 

Unrealistic timelines
If the brief has timelines that seem unrealistic and the client seem unwilling to compromise on scope to hit them. Design is a process and you can’t simply pull a well informed solution out of a hat, it takes research, planning, ideation, testing, validation, etc. 
You have to be confident you have time plus contingency to deliver a final product you’d be happy to put your name to.

You don’t agree with the brief
The brief could contain a requirement for how the client would like to see a problem solved. Briefs should be open for discussion and if you feel there is something there that does not seem like a good idea - speak up. Briefs are sometimes the output of a committee who decided there is a business requirement to address the points. If the solution is non-negotiable and you feel it’s not the right thing to do, walk away. 

Too much red tape
Clearly going to be a nightmare to work on - lots of stakeholders, etc. etc.

Chance of winning
If you think you really won’t get it, don’t waste your time. Focus on jobs with realistic odds, or and save the punts for really great opportunities. 

Enjoy it! 
Is your team going to enjoy working on it?
If your team is going to hate you for taking on this project, don’t do it. Ensure you work on projects the team will enjoy or you’ll create unhappy workers and staff retention will be affected. 

It’s a personal decision and a judgement call. Jobs don’t have to pass every one of these criteria. Don’t stretch yourself or risk to much. Keep it sensible, do a good job and success will follow.


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