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Part of the process of producing your next great video content will likely involve organic changes to the scope of the project. Chances are you might need to ask for budget and timeline overages associated with these changes. In this article we’ll explore this dynamic.

Let’s begin with a quick note about how Assemble helps you manage client overages: 

Managing Overages with Assemble

At the core of Assemble’s project management services is a commitment to direct communication and full transparency between you and your client throughout the creative process. If there is an overage as creative evolves and the scope of your project changes, you’ll be able to communicate the overage to the client via the Assemble platform, and once it’s approved, the client will pay the overage directly through Assemble.

From a logistical perspective, it’s as simple as that!

Nevertheless, even the concept of client overages can seem daunting to a video content creator. In the ever-changing media production landscape, in which demand for high quality content is increasingly squeezed to an ever-shrinking top tier of high-budget opportunities and a vast ocean of great expectations tied to mind-bogglingly limited resources, it’s more important than ever to manage and understand exactly what kind of relationship you’re getting into when you begin a collaboration with a new client or partner.

It can be helpful to revisit the mindset of an ideal client-creative collaboration to make sense of overages in a larger context.

Step 1: Keep the Goal in Mind

Managing client overages begins at the very first step of the creative process — defining the mutual goal of the collaboration itself. What are you setting out to accomplish? What is the message that should be communicated to your audience?

In my previous article describing the process of writing an effective creative brief, I emphasized the importance of treating the client-creative relationship like, well, a relationship. In other words, you set out certain expectations in the form of non-negotiables (deadlines, available budget, etc.), but at its core a new collaboration should be all about a statement of desire and setting out on a path to creating something new, fulfilling, and pleasantly unexpected.

Step 2: Expect the Unexpected

Starting a new collaboration should be all about reaching a mutual understanding about what that path will look like. You and your client may be unclear about what the final result will look or feel like — in fact, communicating as much might be a great sign that the client is interested in exploring your creative potential — but what should be clear is that the idea being discussed is worth pursuing together.

If you feel that there is a disconnect between your and your potential client’s expectations, this might be a sign that experimentation, and the associated overages that come from the ideal creative process, may not be appropriate or appreciated.

In either case, honesty is key. Clear and open communication is invaluable throughout the process of initiating a project and during the production itself.

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Step 3: Opportunities for Change

At the core of the ideal creative process there should always exist a fundamental expectation of discovering something new.

You can anticipate several stages in this process — the initial unpacking of the brief, the creative proposal, the prototype, the storyboard/animatic, rough cut, fine cut, etc. Appropriately, at each stage there are new opportunities to reaffirm the goals of the project (staying on the straight and narrow path) or to reevaluate the scope of the project with new information and discoveries.

Either option is valid, depending on your particular relationship. The only rule you should adhere to is constantly checking in with your client. Report new proposals based on unexpected innovations or affirm the consistency of your progress with the initial target as often as possible.

Step 4: Proposing Changes

If in the course of the creative process you decide that there’s an opportunity to make something new and unique that is outside the current scope of the project, check in with yourself and your team before contacting your client to make sure you can communicate the overage in the most effective way.

Prepare a proposal consisting of a description of the new discovery or creative path, a mock-up of the additional work required (usually a rough edit, storyboard, or other visual showing how the change will fit into the project as a whole), and a well-researched assessment of the expected budget and time overage.

A client who is well invested in your relationship will be even more amenable to an overage if they understand the journey that got you there. Thorough documentation at each step of the creative process helps make this easy — the story of your work should be obvious, visual, and compelling in much the same way that the behind-the-scenes activities of a stage production during rehearsals are naturally intriguing to the producers who invested in the show.

Above all, confirm that the changes and additions will serve to better achieve the goal you and your client set out to accomplish from the beginning.

Step 5: Creating Something New

Don’t be daunted by the natural progression of your creative impulses. By appreciating the importance of defining the goals of your relationship and keeping clear and constant communication with your client, you will be able to navigate the production of your next video, potential overages included, with the focus squarely where it belongs — the promise of originality.

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