Creating the project
This will begin after the proposal and contract are accepted. Keep track of the actual time and expenses for each project for use in the 2nd spreadsheet (Per Page Average) included in the Pro kit and Estimate Pack. We use Timeslips to track time and expenses for each project, both for invoicing and fine tuning our estimates for the next project. After each project is complete, update the Per Page Average spreadsheet with the original estimates and the actuals. This spreadsheet will show you, over time, how close your estimates are. Now you can edit times and rates in the estimate spreadsheet to make the next proposal even more accurate after each project. The estimate spreadsheets are included in the Proposal Kit Professional.
You must have feedback loop designed into your business so you can continually monitor your estimates and make comparisons with the final results. This allows you to fine tune your estimating process after each project.
Use the Design Checklist document as a tool to guide you through the development process. This document outlines step by step the development process for each milestone.
Use the Milestones document to check off each stage of the project and get approvals from the client at each stage. It is advisable to not create an entire project from start to finish without interaction and approval from the client. It is much easier to make changes at the beginning of each step than after it is complete. The larger and more costly a project is, the more milestones there should be. Also consider structuring a payment schedule around frequent milestones so you minimize the risk of losing a lot of money if a project is stopped or the client has financial problems.
Double-check your project against the storyboard diagrams, the information worksheets, and the specifications given to the client. Remember that your proposal can also be counted as a specification in some cases so your delivered project must conform to your contracted specifications and your proposal.
If you are subcontracting parts of the project, use the subcontractor agreement document to protect your project and your client. Make sure either you or your client will retain ownership of the copyrights and all original materials created by the subcontractor. For example, if you contract out development of a Flash animation and all you receive is the final Flash file, you may be stuck if you need to have changes made and the developer is not available. If you contract out creation of graphics, make sure you are also sent the original development version (i.e. the Adobe .PSD file if the artist is using Photoshop or .EPS or .AI file if using Illustrator, etc.).