The occasional rush job is inevitable: You find out two days before a tradeshow that your boss expects to see a 6-foot poster in the booth. Or you are given a 75% discount on an ad if you submit the artwork by the end of the day. These are great opportunities — contact your agency, and get to work! It’s for projects like these that we agencies keep a big supply of midnight oil ready to burn.

But be honest: how often are your rush jobs due to these last minute reveals of opportunities, and how often are they really because of poor planning on your or your organization’s part? Your agencies can make your rush jobs happen… but if you find that your projects are “rush projects” more often than a few times a year, perhaps it’s time to look at what procedures can be put in place to uncover opportunities earlier.

I am writing this post after spending about 5 weeks helping another agency tackle a monumental rush job to prepare deliverables for three events for a valued client. This was not so much poor planning on the part of this client as it is that she is spread way too thin. In any case, it was a staggering amount of work in a small amount of time that I’m still amazed that we were able to accomplish. These were 5 extremely difficult weeks for this team of 7 people. This got me thinking about all the times I’ve been asked to rush a job. Clients need to understand that rushing a job adds tremendous risk.

  • Quality takes care, and care takes time: Yes, your agency can probably compress an 8-week project into a 4-week schedule. But this means we will not have time to plan the best way to do it, we’ll have to use whichever resources we have on hand to do the work–even if they are not the ideal people for the job, and we will have less time to do the work and spend on QA.
  • Burnout leads to mistakes: After the first week or two of a rush job, people are tired from staying up until midnight working on your project. Stressed people are more likely to miss some details–making QA (which takes time) all the more important.
  • Haste makes waste: We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare, and we all know that it’s usually true. When we have the time to plan a project, think it through, try on different scenarios, try multiple layouts, and have multiple people QA the work, we are more likely to turn out the perfect deliverable you are looking for. Just because we are in a rush that doesn’t mean we want to cut corners, so that means stressed and rushed people will be doing that QA and finalizing those deliverables. We still want to turn out that perfect product, but the chance that there are mistakes will be much higher.

In short, the risks are higher with a rush job, so faced with less time to complete a project, the agency must work much harder to ensure a quality product. If your agency tells you it will cost more to complete a project in 4 weeks than would to complete it in 8 weeks — this is one reason why. That and all the extra antacids they must buy for their team.

The moral of the story

No matter how great you are at planning, we all get hit with rush projects sometimes. Having a great working relationship with an agency is your first step toward being able to pull off small miracles when you need to do a rush project. Be aware of the risks, look at where you can simplify what you need, and be sure to let your agency know you appreciate their work.

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