You might well be thinking that contract service agreements are uncreative and unsexy.
But actually, what is sexier than defining what a relationship is and can be? That’s what our contracts do.
When a contract is simple and clear, the assumptions are given a foundation for agreement. Great things can happen as a result.
At the beginning of our relationship, we will define the services we will provide, how long the definition will exist (and how it could end), what the two of us are responsible for, the payment terms, and how we’ll resolve any potential disagreements.
If you have ever negotiated a “master service agreement,” you’ll be familiar with the format.
However, our contracts differ from typical agreements in that we include a general scope of deliverables upfront. We don’t go into detail on them (that’s what the Project Charter is for.) However, every relationship is predicated upon certain expectations. The list of anticipated deliverables usually defines those expectations.
Our Project Charter picks up where the Service Contract leaves off. This is where we start getting into details.
We will define the business issues addressed by each project. We will also describe what success looks like. When you describe the desired outcome and the goals and benefits to be attained, the anticipation starts to rise because the nature of the solution begins to take shape.
The lengthiest section of the Project Charter is where we define “in scope” and “out of scope.” Over the years, many client/agency relationships have gone sideways over this miscommunication. We head it off at the pass at the start by literally putting it side-by-side in black-and-white. No confusion!
Here’s an example. We can state that social media guidance, specifically for LinkedIn and Instagram, is in-scope. Our scope might include audience definition, linguistic and stylistic guidelines, specific topics to be covered or content types to be created, and the cadence or pacing of the communication over time. What’s out of scope? In this example, we made sure to tell the client we would write the copy, create the visuals, or manage the channels. “Guidance and strategy, but no production and no management” is the shorthand, but the Project Charter goes into detail.
The horror story this is meant to correct: agencies take on big scopes of work, kick off projects, and then go dark, leaving clients wondering what the hell they’re doing. In our Project Charter, we will call out critical milestones for timing so you can see how a project will develop on its way to the goal. Once the Charter is approved, you’ll receive a detailed Gantt Chart that lives in the cloud so you can see updates to the critical path in real-time.
In the next post, we’ll stretch out. Way out. Now that we have defined our swim lanes, so to speak, we can begin to explore the ocean of our assignment with some guided, measured, recorded introspection. It’s so deep, it’s spiritual.