Post-production can get confusing (and frustrating). Clients aren't sure when things will be delivered or if what they're looking at is supposed to be a polished draft or just a rough cut. Creatives are confused about who's supposed to give feedback or what revisions are within scope and what requires additional fees.

In short, the approvals/revision cycle can be a mess. But like many things, it's a mess that can be fixed with better communication. These are the things you should think about (and talk about, and write down) when you're scoping out your next project.

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Make a timeline and keep it updated

Not all project have hard deadlines, but if you don't set up a timeline anyways it's so easy to let things drag out. At the beginning of a project, but together a simple calendar with key milestones so that you and your stakeholders know what to expect.

It's important that this timeline doesn't just include your milestones, but milestones for you client as well. If you're delivering an edit on a certain date, you also should also include when you'd like to receive feedback by. This not only gives helpful guidance to your client, but also helps justify timeline extensions when feedback is delayed.

For larger projects, a separate timeline document can serve as a home base for your project. You can keep track of severable deliverables, link to each video and include assets like thumbnails or caption files to make publishing a breeze.

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Set a meeting cadence and stick with it

Having regular check-ins is a really helpful project management tactic. Not only does it encourage people to meet deadlines and stay accountable, it gives you regular opportunities to share all the work you've been doing and show progress is being made.

Face-to-face meetings are great, but that time is valuable so we try to reserve that for only the most important meetings during prep or for after-action reports. While a project is in flight, quick calls can be very effective and for day to day updates a simple email update is perfect. The most important thing is to find a rhythm that works well and stick to it.

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Establish your stakeholders and pick a single point of contact

At the start of a project and before you head into post, it's important to know who will actually be giving feedback.

Having to field multiple people's (often contradicting) opinions can get confusing but it makes sense that most projects will have multiple stakeholders and their feedback should be heard.

To prevent multiple opinions from becoming a roadblock, we always work with the client to pick a single point of contact who's responsible for gathering feedback and distilling it into a single set of notes.

Even if you wind up in a situation with many people giving feedback, an easy fix is to setup a call with your client to walk through those notes as a group. Taking the initiative to speak up instead of trying to navigate confusing feedback yourself is really important and can make the difference between staying on deadline and having a project go off the rails and stress you out.

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Get clarity on what revisions are included and what's out of scope

It's common to include a built in set of revisions to your projects but there really isn't a standard way of defining what the scope of those revisions are.

Many creatives simply include X number of revisions in their project budget. This can work if you have a good relationship with a client but it's better to be clear about what's included in a revision round. This can be hard to define, so I like to tie it back to time. This way, included revisions is just shorthand for a set of expected hours or days set aside for making changes.

Once you run out of allotted time for those changes, your client is back on the clock for additional notes. This helps avoid confusion between what qualifies as a 'standard' revision and a note that requires a significant amount of rework.

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Putting it into practice

During project kickoff make sure to talk about your post production policies and how your process works.

Even if you put things in a contract, my motto is that contracts should never be a surprise.

Talk to your stakeholders about how their process typically works and make sure they understand your process and the rationale behind it.

That understanding will lead to better client relationships and a smoother post production process because everyone knows what to expect.

Looking for more articles about client relationships and process? Try this one from our EP Justin about how to avoid scope creep.

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