How much is your project worth?

April 18, 2012


Creating a website, a campaign or an interactive strategy are three types of major projects that will require a company to invest considerable time and money. However, they are also solid investments in your business development and growth that can be carefully planned out and subsequently yield a quantifiable value.

A year ago, I launched a similar large-scale project for TP1. The agency had grown and our offices were cramped, increasingly less practical and they no longer reflected our position or our company culture. So we decided to move. At the time, there were about 15 of us and we calculated that the number would double by 2012. The team identified the problem and we defined objectives. It was just a matter of finding the solution.

Not being an expert in this field, I didn’t know how much money this new adventure would cost us, but like most entrepreneurs, I had a good idea of how much we could spend.

We started by contacting some professionals, namely real estate agents Lloyd Cooper and Erik Langburt. They showed us what a budget for this kind of project might look like:

  • Rent: Between $15 and $35 per square foot
  • Professional services: Between $3 and $6 per square foot
  • Lay-out and furnishings: Between $30 and $100 per square foot

Basing ourselves on these guidelines and the financial resources we had available, we established a budget that would help us to make numerous decisions over the four months that it took to complete the project.

First decision: Choosing a design firm to prepare preliminary designs (for three distinct spaces), complete the final plans and oversee work.

My brother Guillaume, who knows this industry well, gave me several references. We shared our budget and objectives with each firm and eventually chose the design studio that understood our needs the best. That is to say, the studio that was best able to present their approach and ideas in a positive and realistic way, and still respect our objectives, budget and timeframe.

We chose to work with Vincent Hauspy and his team, and the experience was a resounding success. The project was completed on time and on budget – much to the surprise of everyone, but especially the owner of the Castle Building, where our new offices are located.

Each choice made was based on our objectives, budget and timeframe. We established a plan and we followed it. An open space with plenty of natural light. No Italian lighting (or very little of it) for us – we wanted simple suspended cables and light sockets instead. Recycled bowling lanes for the conference room table. Russian plywood for the desks and regular steel (not stainless!) for the base. Affordable choices, yes, but also practical and surprisingly aesthetic! During the course of the project, I learned a lot about previously unknown subjects, and having played a role in creating the environment that will contribute to TP1’s growth and success over the years to come was an unforgettable experience.

But why am I talking to you about renovations and not web projects? Because moving the agency showed me that there are many similarities between the two. In my opinion, the biggest similarity – the elephant in the room – is budget.


In the web industry (as with others), we are called upon to submit proposals for various projects. Oftentimes, the budget is not mentioned in the official request for proposals.

When this is the case, I will ask the question, and typically receive a vague range (“from what to what?”), a precise figure ($125,000 for example), or, most commonly, no useful reply at all. As an entrepreneur, this surprises me every single time.

Probably because, the professional services we offer have a recognized value and are sold at the same general rate as other agencies of the same size and calibre.

Much like the steps we went through for our new offices, it is possible to consult with experts (either at TP1 or elsewhere) who can help to assess the value of a project and establish a budget accordingly. Or even re-evaluate objectives if the financial resources are not adequate. To get a general idea of “How much does it cost?”, you may want to see this useful presentation by Commun.

What conclusion can be drawn from this comparison, dear clients? Give us a budget! Book meetings with your candidates. It’s the best way to choose the agency that is best able to fulfill your needs, all the while respecting your limits and company culture. You will probably be agreeably surprised at the trust that builds because of it and the quality of the solutions that will be proposed. Think of it – you’ll be able to choose the people you really want to work with over the next few months.

The Association des agences de publicité du Québec can help you choose the right agency and has published an Agency Selection Guide intended for advertisers and agencies, which is available online. Check it out!

I look forward to digging deeper into this subject in the future. Look for upcoming posts about the real costs of a web project, agile RFPs and “Building the Empire State Building”.

Image credits: Kimberly Vetrano