Both the Strategist and project manager are client-facing when it comes to communication, and clients should generally email both with requests and communication.
The Project Manager is responsible for making sure that all client communication is answered. For any communication that does not require a response from the strategist, the PM should respond promptly (within 24 business hours is our standard). They should request a follow-up from the strategist for any questions/comments that are in the Strategist’s realm.
To provide prompter responses, the Strategist may also reply first if they see an email first. But it is formally the responsibility of the PM to ensure that a response gets sent.
Client communication should be handled with a mixture of phone calls, emails, Basecamp communication, and sometimes client-specific communication platforms.
Every week, the PM should send two updates:
- An internal weekly update for the team via Asana
- A client weekly update via email or the client’s chosen communication method
The update should inform the relevant parties of the high-level project statuses and how we are tracking against our budgets and timelines. See
Hello Client Name, Hope you had a great week! Other miscellaneous chatter here. Last week, we... * Did a thing * Did another thing This week, we... * Will do a thing * Will handle that other thing Budget/Timeline Update [As appropritate to the project itself] We are at X hours out of our Y hour budget. The project is on schedule. The schedule is broken out below...
A good cadence for these is that the project manager should do a pass of all their projects on Friday, send the internal updates, and assemble the Client updates as a draft in Google Docs. They should share them with the relevant Strategists for review. Strategists should review the updates on Monday and provide any feedback so the updates can go to the client in the afternoon.
Basecamp/Asana Project Access
Basecamp and Asana have the ability to add clients to projects. We use this on a case-by-case basis.
In Basecamp the client can be added to specific resources and conversations within the project, so they don’t have to see everything. About half of our clients enjoy using Basecamp and half prefer more traditional communication methods. Since we are moving away from Basecamp, the only clients we communicate with on there are clients who have been doing that for a while and really like it or have made it a good part of their workflow so we don’t want to change.
We are still exploring the client access features of Asana. You can add the client as full members of the project, but that exposes all information and internal communication. For some clients this might be fine but most of the time it will make the team uncomfortable to know that anything they type in the project may be read by the client.
Some clients prefer to communicate on platforms like Slack, Trello, or Jira. For one-off projects we should almost never use client platforms for communication. Our project management rhythm is very precise and adding more platforms throws it off and creates more confusion than it prevents.
For ongoing projects, it makes sense to get more “embedded” with the client team. For clients who are paying for a Strategy retainer, we are willing to use their systems. The extent to which we will use their systems is dependent on the specific case and how the client is using it. If they have a fantastic Jira system set up that handles all their work really efficiently, we don’t mind putting our whole team in there. If they have a janky system that is rarely updated, we don’t want to get mixed up with it, since it could cause confusion.
When we do this, it does incur additional project management cost, as our Strategist and PM have to shuttle between different systems throughout the work day. This is often worth it for clients, as it saves them time having to be in Basecamp or translating an email. As a Strategist or PM please make sure that you communicate to clients the impact of working with their system, but also that we are happy to adapt to whatever works best and easiest for them and their team.