Australia, 7th January 2010
This is a continuation on yesterday’s blog entry where I mentioned that managing expectations is a very important part of our work as a lighting designer. Besides the creation of photo realistic imagery of our design concept and the related expectations that are created, time management is probably our next biggest challenge. How to keep clients expectations in relations to deliverables in the design process in control? Clients have a habit of wanting things “yesterday” without any consideration for your existing work load or other commitments. At the same time project deadlines have a tendency to pop up all at the same time, rather than being nicely spread throughout the year! I can tell you from experience that the more projects you have the more challenging it becomes to satisfy all your clients at the same time!
I guess there are times when we do not really wish to share our “short comings” with the client and may hide behind some other reasons, but I found that most of the time confronting the situation head on by communicating our dilemma with the client can create some understanding and even respect. What seems to be a good tool in managing those expectations is the use of what we call design schedules. In these schedules we lay down the expected time schedule for our design deliverables in a particular project. To have realistic deadlines the input from our design team is crucial as they will need to commit to it according to their overall workload. For the client it then becomes a reference to which they can schedule other related work or follow up. Changes or unforeseen circumstances (which are always bound to happen) then have to be accommodated by revising the schedules accordingly when it happens.
Obviously the schedules are as good as the input and experience used to put them together. Over time one learns to understand the inter-disciplinary relationship between the lighting designer, client and other project team members and how that impact on each others schedules.