“When do you need this?” “Yesterday.”

Ideally, a new project “walks through the door” and a job number is assigned by the Traffic Manager. A Workback Schedule is then compiled, serving as a timing guide for everyone involved with the project.

It’s important to develop Schedules using reasonable timeframes. While it’d be great to have everything “yesterday,” that’s not realistic… at least not without a time machine.

While a Traffic Manager, I used the following Scheduling Guidelines for the five main types of projects the agency produced – collateral (annual reports, catalogs, brochures), print (newspaper, magazine, outdoor), radio and television (:15, :30, :60), and web site development.

Please keep in mind these Guidelines are simply that, “guidelines.” They’re by no means static and will change repeatedly over the course of a project’s life cycle. It’s also possible for steps to occur simultaneously, further compressing the Schedule.

Many of the projects that enter your agency won’t have enough turnaround time to apply standard Guidelines. In such cases, a reasonable delivery date should be assigned. If a project doesn’t have a stated delivery date, arrive at one by building the timeline forward from today.

Periodically, fine-tune your agency’s Scheduling Guidelines. You may find one designer works more quickly than another. Perhaps one client responds in a more timely manner than others. Experience will dictate how long it takes to complete various projects. A strong (and realistic) understanding of timing will enable you to more efficiently manage your agency’s workflow.

PROJECT SCHEDULING GUIDELINES

COLLATERAL = 41 working days (add 20% for large projects)

Concept development (<16 pgs.) = 5 days
Internal review, comp. production = 2 days
Presentation to client, initial Client input = 2 days
Artwork revisions, internal review = 2 days
Production estimate = 3 days
Presentation to client, client approval = 2 days
Illustrations or photography =  4 days
Retouching = 2 days
Copy corrections = 1 day
Proofreading = 1 day
Agency, client approval of proof(s) = 2 days
Final review of proof(s) = 1 day
Delivery = 14 days

PRINT MEDIA = 23 working days

Concept development = 3 days
Internal review = 1 day
Presentation to client, initial Client input = 2 days
Artwork revisions, internal review = 1 day
Production estimate = 2 days
Presentation to client, client approval = 2 days
Illustrations or photography = 4 days
Retouching = 2 days
Finished digital layout = 2 days
Agency, Client approval of proofs = 2 days
Delivery of digital files = 2 days

RADIO COMMERCIALS = 23 working days

Concept, script development = 3 days
Internal review, presentation to client, initial client input = 3 days
Script revisions, internal review = 2 days
Presentation to client, script approval = 2 days
Production, talent cost estimates = 3 days
Pre-production = 5 days
Recording, editing = 2 days
Final Client approval of spot = 1 day
Dubs for client, TV stations = 1 day
Delivery of dubs = 1 day

TELEVISION COMMERCIALS = 36 working days

Concept, storyboard development = 5 days
Internal review, presentation to client, initial client input = 3 days
Storyboard revisions, internal review = 2 days
Presentation to client, storyboard approval = 2 days
Director selections = 3 days
Production bids, estimate = 3 days
Estimate approval = 2 days
Pre-production = 5 days
Shoot = 3 days
Post-production = 5 days
Final client approval = 1 day
Dubs for client, TV stations = 1 day
Delivery of dubs = 1 day

WEB SITE PROJECTS = 25 working days*

*Schedule assumes a SIMPLE HTML project; shooting photos, Flash animation, dynamic database page generation, etc. may add weeks to the timeline.

Week 1 = 5 days

Kickoff
Collateral materials, budget input to new media
Timeline established, agreed to by all parties

Week 2 = 5 days

Page layout, design, navigation concepts formulated
Content submitted, collected, verified by all parties

Week 3 = 5 days

Presentation to client
Client approval of page layout, design, navigation
Web page, template production
Site population

Week 4 = 5 days

Web page, template production
Site population
Final client approval
Site proofing
Web testing (forms, download time, e-mail, consistency)
Pre-launch checks (DNS issues, web hosting, registration)

Week 5 = 5 days

Go live!
Post-launch checks (e-mail, registration)

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