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The Steps (And Missteps) of Project Management

(Update: January 12, 2021) As TRG has grown, so has the scale of our projects. While the basic steps of the process remain the same, larger, more complex projects require additional attention for proper management. In an upcoming blog, we will be exploring Large Project Management more thoroughly as a supplement to this post.

With every project we manage at TRG Reality, there are a series of steps we make sure to follow. Our project managers will walk you through these steps to guarantee the flawless results on which we pride ourselves. Having said that, no project is without its hurdles, but we will partner with you to overcome those hurdles and produce the results you’ve come to expect from our expert service. Below are the five stages of a typical project and all that we do to ensure we are exceeding your expectations and needs.  

Step 1: The Project Initiation

This first step is primarily about identifying and addressing the project vision, the budget itself, and the timeline of the project. Some of the time, clients will come to us with an idea for a project, but they won’t necessarily have all the parts of that project completely fleshed out. Though we may not have all of the information we need to get a truly accurate estimate in front of them, our project managers will put different parameters around the information we do have to come up with options. For example, a client may only have a slight idea of their project vision, but a firm budget. Using the information we are given, we can create options for the client that we feel fit their vision and budget, and have a conversation with them to come up with a game plan. Sometimes we find the vision may change after this discussion, or at the very least, we will come together to form a more firm vision, but no matter where the discussion leads, it’s important that the lines of communication are open and that everyone is on the same page. 

During this step, we will also discuss timelines with the client. Depending on the client and the project, these can be all over the board. Sometimes we have tons of time; sometimes the client needs images within a few days. If a client requests something that we know we can’t finish within that timeline, we will figure out what we can do within that timeline. We will provide the client with another option on which to move forward in order to accomplish on some level what they need. For example, if a client says they would like 100 images tomorrow, and we know we can’t produce all 100, we may come back and offer a priority list of some kind. It’s really about finding that happy medium. 

Step 2: Pre-Production

At this time, we will request all that we need from the client, and depending on when they can deliver those items may or may not impact the timing or their budget. Likewise, if we are working with a stylist, set styling also comes into play. Vision boards will be created, sets might be built, etc. It’s of the utmost importance for all this to be communicated and approved by the client so we don’t have to go back after the work is done and make changes, which ultimately costs the client time and money. This is the step where TRG buttons up all of the details in order to stay on time and on budget for the project, and it’s our job to communicate that to the client. If they come back and say they want something changed but due to their timeline or budget it’s not practical, we will suggest a change that we can make better in post, or that will get an item here faster, etc. Truly, communication is key. That may sound clichéd, but it’s a maxim we stand by quite firmly. We want our clients to sign off on every step of the way, so we make absolutely sure that we are communicating changes, options, and ideas throughout the project.  

Something else to note is that if the client does not have a set timeline or due date for the project, our project managers will go to our team and ask when can we get it done. We will set the parameters for the project so as to help manage all of the project expectations on our end as well as the client’s. We will ensure all of the checklist items are accomplished, and we will take care of the revisions. We want our client to feel that we are on top of things rather than cutting corners or rushing the project, and again, we do this through constant communication. We will be honest and forthcoming with all of our suggestions and amendments; we will never make a promise that we can’t deliver. 

In this step, we will make sure we have everything finalized before we go into the actual shoot, the CGI project, or the retouching project, which leads us to the third step. 

Step 3: Production

Things are always subject to change. We could be working on set or in the CGI scene, and though there was an original vision of how the project was supposed to be executed, we may find ourselves in a situation where the scope or vision needs to change and that we need to go a different route. If the new solution ends up equal in cost or time spent to the original scope, this is of course not an issue. However, if we were to say start by creating a static image in CGI but the client decides they want an animation instead, that will affect the budget and timeline. It’s important that we know up front the project expectations, and though we understand that is not always possible, it’s helpful for budget and timing purposes. 

Let’s say that during a half-day shoot, the client really likes the way one particular image turns out. They decide they would like more of that particular image, and would like to use that image in more aspects than previously planned. This change in scope will most likely affect both the budget and timeline, so knowing ahead of time that the client may want to use images for other purposes is helpful when initially planning Step 1. Again, this is completely doable; it all goes back to communication. If the client communicates that need or want to us, we can get it done and make everyone else on the team aware of what is happening. 

Step 4: Post-Production

With every project, there is a post-production element, and post can take up as much time as the initial shoot or CGI rendering. It is important for the client to consider this when waiting for the final results. Let’s say we shoot 50 images, and it takes one hour to retouch each one. It’s impossible to have all 50 of those images to the client the next day, but never fear! Our project managers always have a solution, such as offering the client low-res shots for place holders. Though this step will most likely be established upfront, we understand that things can change on the fly, but we will always work with the client to create viable solutions. The clients rely on us to tell them what we can get to them and when; in turn, we rely on the client to communicate their priorities to us so we can make sure we are providing exactly what they need by the time they need it by. At TRG, we take pride in the fact that our project managers have a great, established rapport with the clients as well as our own team. We know what everyone is capable of and comfortable with. 

Step 5: Close of Project

The point of this step is to minimize any surprises. It’s for us to communicate with the client and for the client to communicate with us in order to guarantee flawless execution. The process is the way that it is because we’re trying to provide the perfect assessment at the cost we initially promised. The client doesn’t want to be surprised with unforeseen charges on the back end. We can produce the best images they’ve ever seen, but if the cost is more than what they initially expected, that won’t matter. 

Luckily, our project managers have experience on both sides of this process, and with that experience, we can still create concrete estimates even if project information is vague or missing. Moreover, our project managers’ intuition is key since it allows for us to foresee any challenges ahead of time, and to envision where the project is headed, which can then be built into the estimate parameters discussed in Step 1. We do an excellent job at estimating so that in the event of unforeseen issues, we are already ahead of the curve, which goes back to us understanding our clients’ needs so well. 

No project will be without its missteps, but at TRG Reality, we possess the knowledge, experience, and foresight to tackle any and all of the snags that can and do arise. We don’t just work for you; we work with you in order to assure that you are receiving nothing but the finest service and products we have to offer without any surprises in the overall cost.

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