graphic of the word revisions being marked up

Managing Revisions – and Your Budget

Daryn Peterman, April 29, 2020

There’s no easier way to blow your precious budget than to make umpteen revisions on a single project. During my tenure at McDill, I’ve seen a few projects undergo dozens and dozens of revisions that could have been avoided.

When discussing a project with a new client, often the first question is about budget. “What do you charge for revisions?” “How many revisions are included in this project?” “Do we pay for each revision or is that included in the price?”

When I start a project, I ask my clients the following questions, in order to better estimate and manage the revision process for them:

  1. How many people are included in the review process? The magic number is the fewest possible. The fewer, the better.
  2. Who will internally manage the review process? It’s best to have one person serve as the go-between with the agency. Things get messy quickly when multiple stakeholders contact the agency directly, potentially contradicting one another. Appointing an internal gatekeeper is a powerful way to keep a project on focus and on budget.
  3. Which subject matter experts should be included in the kick-off meeting? It’s important to make sure that the key content contributors have a seat at the table, so we get all the pertinent information about the project before we start working.
  4. Can you provide copy feedback in a Word document before we begin the layout? This is a best practice for protecting budgets. We provide our clients with a Word document containing the written content for their project, and we ask them to make any revisions there. Only when they approve the copy does the project go into the designer’s hands. This minimizes the costlier practice of reconfiguring the layout to accommodate revised copy.
  5. Can we schedule a touch-base to discuss the first round of revisions? We always recommend scheduling a quick call to review the collected feedback, especially for a first project. We want to be sure we clearly understand the client’s directions. Plus, we can answer any of their questions that may have come up. This helps ensure that changes in subsequent rounds are much less significant.

At the end of the day, managing revisions and your budget comes down to good communication on the front end of a project, before billable time begins. These initial steps will set the tone for the work – and the invoice – to come.