common project challenges

How We Solve 4 Common Project Challenges

As a creative agency that works with many unique organizations, it’s our job to work with clients to ensure every project runs smoothly. We see obstacles our clients face firsthand while trying to successfully execute projects. It’s our project coordinator’s job to collaborate with our internal team to figure out a solution to these hurdles so we can continue moving forward with the project—on time and on budget.

To accomplish this, we listen first to understand the unique needs of every client. Below are some of the most common obstacles we may encounter over the course of a project and what we’ve done to overcome them:

Challenge #1: Content Development
Many, if not all, of our projects require content. Whether that means content for a publication, website, or sales collateral, receiving it early in the process helps guide design decisions and move the project along. Our team can outline what’s needed to clear the path on the client side and facilitate a smoother process.

For MedStar’s Connect magazine, we created a wireframe system that outlined different story types (like sidebars or feature stories) and word counts so it was easy for their team to populate it with the appropriate content. This system allowed contributors across the various hospital departments to input their copy while remaining consistent throughout the piece. To learn more about this process, download our whitepaper here.

Challenge #2: Quick Deadlines
Deadlines are a top priority for most clients. Projects with quick turnaround times require quick thinking and efficient coordination to get everything done—and to get it done right.

When designing Monument City Brewing Company’s newly released packaging, we ran into this challenge. The popular Baltimore brewery launches a new beer every season, so our design team must be ready to design packaging and promotional material several times a year to go to market. To manage the important deadlines, like artwork due to vendors, we worked with Monument to establish a release calendar that includes seasonal launch dates, deadlines, and information about each product. Our design team can now plan ahead and design one-of-a-kind branding in advance for promotion and distribution.

Challenge #3: Not Knowing Where to Start
Some clients come to us needing a solution, but have no idea where to begin. Whether their goal is to promote awareness, give life to an outdated website, or refresh their current brand, they need a change. But what is the first step?

Through initial discovery meetings, we can pinpoint what a brand is missing or what needs updating to make it stronger. In these one-on-one meetings with stakeholders, we take our time to truly understand what brands and internal teams need and provide ways for them to implement it. While working with Nexterus, we did exactly that. Our discovery and immersion phases revealed challenges and pain points they didn’t even realize needed addressing. This integral part of our process allows clients who are struggling to solidify their business goals get their strategy off the ground.

Challenge #4: Strict Internal Approval Process
This seems to be the hurdle we encounter the most. Oftentimes, pieces need to go through multi-level approval processes, resulting in extensive and sometimes contradictory feedback. For many organizations, their approval and legal process is a critical step in production—so we have learned to work alongside this process, not against it.

Determining the key decision makers and points of contact at the start of projects helps keep communication efficient. We are currently working with the Baltimore chapter of AIGA on a few projects which involve many key stakeholders’ feedback. To align notes and next steps, our team uses tools like Slack to communicate efficiently with both teams. This allows us to be responsive and proactive if any unexpected issues or quick changes arise.

Though these examples only scratch the surface of what challenges can occur, we’re always looking for new ways to adapt to anything unexpected that comes our way—like embracing new project management tools or effective communication software. Orange Element’s priority is to provide our clients with amazing work while making the process to get there as seamless as possible.