Whether you do everything yourself, hire and manage a team of independent specialists, or go the advertising agency route, you first need to get your priorities straight. You’ve probably heard of the time/budget/quality equation. It likes this.

In any project, you can reasonably expect to have two of these factors meet your expectations. But it’s realistic to think all three will be completely to your satisfaction. Think want to pay, you may have to let timeless suffer. To save money, you might take advantage of your printer’s post-holiday slow time, for instance but now your printer is controlling your timing, not you. Or to accept another example, to get a timely delivery, you may have to pay rush fixing quality, but your budget is paying the price. And to get something fast and cheap, you may not use the quality of vendors you would prefer.

Let me give you a glimpse of the process from the agency side. When I meet the prospects to discuss a potential project, I am always asking questions that help me place their priorities on the time/budget/quality scale. I also ask about what their decision-making process will be. The reason? So I can quote a price that accurate reflects a process and end product that meets their criteria. To be blunt, I require more for working with multiple decision-makers. It’s fair because it takes longer to please a committee.

It’s reasonably realistic for me to promise that I can deliver quality on time, and on a low budget when I am working with one decision-maker. Make that two decision-makers, and it gets harder. I have more wishes to accommodate as I develop creative solutions, and that means more time, and more time means more money. There will need to be a change in either the timing or the budget expectations to allow us to work together well.

When the number of decision-makers goes beyond three, it become much harder to deliver timeliness and quality without spending more money to do so. This is not a problem if the client has resources. If not, I try to gracefully pass on the project. Your budget, and your time and expertise, will tell you which option to choose.

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