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10 top tips for creating timing plans: Allow time for amends

One thing often missed in creating project plans and timing plans it’s allowing time for review and amend cycles. Amends or changes to a project are inevitable.  But if there are too many they’re also very likely to cripple a project, extend the timeline, utilise additional budget, and potentially impact the overall quality of the project. In this post we’ll explore how we can account for and schedule amends and changes when creating accurate timing plans and project plans.

Allow for client amends

This goes without saying. Clients like to change things, and put their mark on a project. So no matter how closely you think you’re aligned with your client on a project, you need to allow for amends. But how do you know how much time to allow for those amends?

Be clear about what’s in scope

Right from the start, it’s important to be aware of how many rounds of amends are contained within your scope of work. Chances are though you’ll be creating the timing plan before you write your scope of work, so at the very least, ensure the two match up. So should you simply allow in your timeline for what’s in scope?

Be realistic

It’s one thing to know what’s in your scope of work, but it’s important that you’re also pragmatic. The reality of client & agency relationships is that there’s usually a degree to which the client needs to be appeased, so even if something isn’t strictly within scope, it gets done anyway. As this is virtually inevitable, try baking it into the existing rounds of amends, by adding in additional time.

So how much time should I allow for amends and changes to the project?

The number of rounds of amends in a project is usually variable depending on the phase. Ordinarily, the number of rounds of amends on a project should decrease the further down the road a project it is. At the beginning of a project, while it’s in UX, expect 3 x rounds of amends on each deliverable; sitemap, wireframes and prototypes. It’s better to allow for these amend cycles up front, then have them later. Once in design, I’d allow for 3 x rounds of amends on each deliverable; look & feel, and layouts. In development, everything should be locked down so allow for 1 x rounds of amends on back end and front end interface development.

Allow for internal amends

One thing which can often be forgotten is allowing time for internal amends. It’s sometimes the internal amends, especially in creative, which require the most time. Rather than listing these as line items on your project plan, simply bake this into the development time – it’s hard to explain to a client why they should have to wait or pay for your team not getting it right first time!

Allow for some scope changes

Remember that some changes, while out of scope, might become within scope due a change request. If at all possible, it’s worth allowing for this right at the start of the project. Yes, this is essentially adding fat to a timeline, but if you can afford to, it’s better to do it at the beginning of a project, rather than having additional scope added, and for whatever reason, being told that the timeline needs to stick to the original delivery date.

Communicate

Once you’ve pulled together your idea of how much time should be allowed for amends, make sure you’ve got buy in from the whole team, especially creative! It’s essential that everyone knows what there’s time and budget to amend, and what not.

What do you think?

What do you think we’re missing? What else is there to defining the idea that should PM’s be thinking about when creating timing plans and project plans? We’d love to hear if you’ve got any more tips – why not share them using the comments below?

10 top tips for creating timing and project plans

This 10 top tips blog series has been written as a guide for estimating and approaching creating cost estimates in the midst of it all. In this series of posts we’re looking at the following:

Ben Aston

About Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and VP of Client Services at FCV, a full service digital agency in Vancouver, Canada. I've been in the industry for more than 10 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from video virals to CMS’, flash games to banner ads and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.

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