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Who Gets Final Say?

You’ll also want to use your meetings to determine who has final say on various aspects of the project. Knowing this information sooner rather than later prevents confusion down the road and helps ensure that the designs you create are the ones that will be used. This leaves very little wiggle room for those people who might be compelled to step up at the end of a project and request arbitrary modifications to a project that has already been well-planned and well-designed.

Typically, someone will elect to become (or get sucked into being) the designated project manager. This person will be in charge of driving the project forward by making sure that deadlines are met, negotiations for changes are handled along the way, and everyone knows what they need to know. The project manager will usually be the person with whom you correspond most frequently, although this person is often not the one who signs off on final decisions.

In most cases, the person you really want to find is the one who signs the checks. This might be the CEO, the product manager, or even the marketing manager. Whatever the case, this person has the almighty "Approved" stamp on his or her desk and should be kept in the loop at all times.

I’ve found over the years that clients really appreciate it when you stay in constant communication with them. Even if you’ve made only one change in the last 24 hours, a quick status update is always appreciated. It lets the client know you’re on the job, where you are in terms of progress, and what you plan to do next. Copying the primary stakeholder on this correspondence is a great way to make sure that all the right people know exactly what’s going on at any given time, and can speak up if necessary.

Of course, you’ll usually work with many other people on the same project, such as graphic designers, programmers, and perhaps writers. Each of these people should receive as much or as little communication as is needed. But the person who signs the checks should get full disclosure.

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