Do you get frustrated by how much time it takes to complete a project when you have hired a firm to plan/design and fabricate it for you? Are you surprised by the amount of involvement it takes on your end? Our clients are highly involved in our projects. Sometimes it is difficult for them to manage their day job and answer lots of questions throughout the project. We attempt to coach our clients on their needed involvement up front, yet it might be helpful for you to learn why your input is so important and why we often want it quickly.
If you were building a home would you want your contractor to pick everything from the towel colors in your bathroom to the type of kitchen sink you wanted? I imagine most people would want some involvement in the things that go in their home. Well, when you build an exhibit or environment you will want to make sure the team gets it right, too.
Why last minute decisions take more time and are rushed:
In a design/production shop we are often battling keeping our artists and craftsmen moving steadily forward on a project. Delays kill our scheduling and productivity. If someone was scheduled to paint a Tanager (bird model) and all of a sudden there is a question on the exact coloring, then that artist is dead in the water. Often it is difficult to then quickly shift them to another job if that is what was previously scheduled for that week. If they do not have project work to work on then they are not producing income, which in turn pays for their paycheck. If they are sweeping floors instead we do not get paid for that. Therefore, it is critical for our management team to keep our team working on project work.
Often, if we do not have this critical detailed information and the work has a deadline, a project manager may ask you to make the decision very quickly. We know this can be frustrating in your busy schedules, too. If production stops and starts it also takes many more hours to produce the same piece. There is clean up, tool and material assembly, momentum of work progress and much more that can affect the speed of completing a piece of work if it is stopped in the middle of production.
Why preplanning and approvals of reference materials are very critical to saving time in the long run:
During the design phase and preproduction phase of a project we ask our clients to approve things like reference photos (which would show the color of the Tanager for example), poses, sizes, dimensions and all around approval of all components in an exhibit. If these are approved at an early stage, then work can be planned and production does not stop. If a client later on says the original reference photos, which they approved, are not accurate, hiccups occur. Given that much of our work needs to be absolutely scientifically accurate, it is inevitable that things will change as we are producing them. This is why we ask our clients to visit periodically during the fabrication phase. The earlier we catch it the better.
Our clients want the work to be accurate and their input is often critical to this success. We recently had a client who walked the shop floor with a ruler measuring the beaks of the bird models that were being sculpted. We had to change a few to make sure they were absolutely right on. This is why client involvement is critical every step of the way. We are also improving the references we provide ahead of time to make sure we take less of the client’s time. Your critical eye when approving these photos, references and drawings can save time, money and frustration as the project progresses.