Ok… we’re all being asked to do more with less. So when you’re tearing your hair out over the next invoice that blows your design budget, you might wonder if your design team are jumping with joy. They’re not.

Unplanned changes blow budgets more often than anything else. So the quickest way to blow your design budget is to do anything that increases the likelihood or need for changes.

Number 1 – The sloppy brief

There’s a reason briefs should be written. Not because your designer needs a neat Word document but because a written brief forces disciplined thought. A haphazard brief is a recipe for the sorts of shifts and changes in direction that take more time and money.
If the brief isn’t clear on what is needed, then it’s no surprise the design team won’t be clear either.

How to avoid it: Think through and write every brief thoroughly and carefully.

Number 2 – Not getting internal alignment

Internal alignment keeps everyone focused in the same place. Everyone involved in a design project’s success, planning and approval should be aligned before the design team are brought in. Failing to align on strategy and brief before ‘pen hits paper’ all but guarantees frustrating, time consuming and expensive shifts in direction.

How to avoid it: Adopt a project team approach, ensure involvement and take the time to get alignment.

Number 3 – The Afterthought

Design briefs are sometimes modified well into the design process when someone has an afterthought. Usually after seeing something on Google, a belated trip to look at the retail shelves, or talking to a friend who works in marketing for another company.

When your design company put together your estimate it was based on a calculation of the time according to the brief. That afterthought just cost you money and time.

How to avoid it: Think through all the issues and details BEFORE you write and give the brief

Number 4 – Lack of accountability for inputs

A challenge for marketers managing design projects is that you’re at the eye of a storm of information and stakeholders.

You need something from each one of the people in the project team… the designer, R&D, Operations, Marketing, Senior Management, Printer, Pre-Press and others. It has to be the right something at the right time in order for your project to run smoothly. The chances of that happening diminish dramatically if everyone thinks that any failure will be ‘your problem’. If there’s no accountability then there’s often no care from those responsible for supplying information and inputs.

How to avoid it: Ensure that lack of care has consequences for people or departments responsible. You’ll be amazed how quickly inputs improve if mistakes and cost overruns hit their budget, not yours.

Number 5 – Trying to take shortcuts

Pressure on timelines has never been greater.We see your grey hairs appearing. It’s tempting to shortcut good design project process in an effort to hit tight deadlines.Shortcuts often actually take longer and costs more.

Shortcuts in good process almost always results in things going wrong. Every time something goes wrong, design or artwork has to be changed or even completely redone. It has to be re-circulated through approval channels. It can even require new printing. So what’s happened is the time and budget it would have taken to do the project once properly has been used PLUS the time and budget to do it the ‘quick way’ first.

How to avoid it: Do things the right way as fast as possible. Don’t do things as fast as possible any way you can.

To protect your design budgets do your best to avoid these 5 traps on your next project. It will save money, time and quite possibly, our shared sanity.