How to Handle One-Off Design Requests

One-off requests from field-based affiliates (franchisees, resellers, dealers, etc.) can be a thorn in the paw of an in-house agency. These projects often come with quick turnaround times, elevated visibility with leadership (particularly when the requestor is a significant source of revenue), and minimal creative satisfaction for the designer doing the work.

With a high degree of urgency, one-off requests can interrupt the flow that creative types desire. They can also force the internal agency back into the role of the get-it-done shop, leaving meatier assignments to external providers.

To make matters worse, one-off requests often have a notable overhead-to-studio-time ratio. That is, the task has to be handled by multiple people, which means its ostensible cost (calculated on a pure hourly basis) can be high relative to its business impact.

Who could ask for anything less in a creative assignment?

The good news is that there are a few simple techniques to reduce the complexity and cost of one-off requests without compromising satisfaction for stakeholders.

It’s all about the intake.

Create an intake form that guides users to provide complete information about the project before submitting it. Make the form web-accessible using free or low-cost tools like Google Forms or Airtable. This can help you avoid treating small, one-off projects with the same Rolls Royce approach that high-end creative or strategy assignments receive.

Use turnaround time as your bargaining chip.

Field-based users often don’t understand the cost associated with multiple rounds of revision on a one-off request. External agencies control this by charging for additional rounds, but billing back isn’t always an option for in-house teams. To counter this, set up your one-off workflow so it operates at high speed (same day or next day) assuming zero rounds of revision—essentially one and done. Let requesters know that anything requiring a subsequent round will slow your delivery timing considerably.

Build a template library and require your team to use it.

Designers are famous for developing their own individualized approaches to document and design structures. This is great for complex projects but inefficient when cranking out one-off requests. For these types of jobs, insist that your team draw on a library of basic templates so high-volume, quick-turn output is as consistent as it is easy to produce.

You might get some pushback from team members who prefer custom designs or their own personal templates. If that’s the case, consider expanding that team member’s templates to “shared” status, as a way to get buy-in (and even leadership) from potential resistors.

With the proliferation of media types and the continued reliance on social platforms, we can all expect the volume and pace of one-off requests to increase in the years ahead. These simple tips can help you ensure that your in-house agency isn’t mired in such mechanical work.

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