Communicating Project Scope With Your Vendor

By Warren Lutz – Contributing Writer


“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

George Bernard Shaw is always good for a quote, but this one really hits home for marketers. That’s because so many project gaffs and misfires can be traced to a lack of communication over project scope that occurs between companies and their marketing vendors.

missed communication image

When project gaffs and misfires occur, typically the problem can be traced to a lack of communication over project scope.

When this happens, money is wasted, targets are missed and no one is happy. So when it comes to communicating the specifications of your project, follow these tips and you’ll have a much better chance of getting what you need, when you need it:

Details, details, details. The project manager will need to know key deliverable dates and, if applicable, the budget for your project in order to create an effective calendar. Just as important, your vendor will need to know what your project will not include. And if, for example, you want to create a video presentation, your vendor will also need to know whether you want to use original images, stock images or animation, each of which will affect the project budget.

For a clean project handoff, spend a little time on the particulars before the kickoff call.

Provide names. If there is a specific subject HELLO my name is Success!matter expert your vendor needs to speak with, say so – along with how and when to reach this person. Your expert could be anyone from a business partner who can talk about the benefits of a jointly created product to the CEO of your own company.

If there are specific content owners to use for the project, tell your vendor this, too. Whoever your vendor needs to contact, keep in mind that a last minute rush to get key project details does not bode well for your budget – or the project itself.

Request a project summary. After the kickoff call, ask your agency for a summary of the project. A literal transcription isn’t necessary, but you want to ensure you have clearly expressed the project concept and parameters.

With highly respected vendors, this stuff is routine. “After the kick-off call, I always like to summarize everything in an email so it’s in black and white,” says Jennifer Barrier, ETMG Project Manager. “A good agency will always do this.”

Expect questions. A project misfire is the last thing your agency wants. No matter how well you’ve communicated your project scope, be prepared for questions.

If you don’t have the answers ready, no worries – just get them ASAP after the kick-off call. Generally speaking, it is unwise to assume your vendor is moving forward without them.

Sometimes it helps to compare your project to ordering a custom-made meal for a dinner party.  Did you provide all the proper ingredients, where to find them? By putting in extra effort at the start, you’ll avoid that extra trip to the store – and stay on time and on budget.


Jennifer Barrier, ETMG Project Manager

Six Sigma: Beat the Omnipresent Scope Creep With Communications

Bright Hub: Writing a Scope Statement

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