How to Handle Rework with your Customers Effectively


What are we talking about in this article?

Avoiding Rework effectively in your agency

According to the Benchmark survey of the industrial metal cutting organization, gathering more than 100 industrial metal-cutting operations survived we got to know that respondents admitted that finished products don’t pass the first inspection 20% of the time and require rework.

It’s not unreasonable to assume that similar rework percentages exist in other manufacturing operations and heck, other disciplines as well. Correcting defective parts means lost time, increased waste, and unplanned costs. Figuring out ways to reduce manufacturing rework leads to cost savings, more productive use of time, and overall higher quality products.

When a creative worker or a tech needs to go back to do a job or do a task again because it wasn´t finished completely or correctly the first time, it costs the business time and money: preventing errors and finding ways to reduce reworks will keep projects moving forward on schedule and allow you to get more done.

Rework is one of those situations that causes dissatisfaction in an organization’s employees, and this type of situation can be stressful, frustrating, and detrimental to business profits.

After all, time is money, and when a team needs to perform the same action twice, it consequently decreases productivity. The question that needs to be answered would be: Can it be avoided?

Don’t panic, you can. But first things first.

Project Management

What are reworks anyway?

At first glance and according to the business dictionary, rework is defined as:

Correcting of defective, failed, or nonconforming items during or after inspection. Rework includes all follow on efforts such as disassembly, repair, replacement, reassembly, etc.

There are several reasons why a product could be found to be defective or require rework:

  • Human error or machine malfunction
  • Design change not communicated.
  • Design change not implemented properly
  • Product damaged in transit.
  • Product damaged in use.

When rework is required, the manufacturer/supplier receives a document outlining instructions to complete the task. This will include sorting, reworking, washing, and repackaging. The document will list the tools necessary for the rework and the process with photos showing what to look for on the affected parts.

Main losses from rework

Rework can be severe to your agency or business. Be on the lookout that some of the following issues don’t happen to you.

Workplace Stress

Customer experience can sometimes be frustrating when the results are not met with their standards, the manager has to ask for the work to be redone, and consequently, the team is under stress because they need to do the follow-up and finish this activity in addition to all other daily activities that come out at the same time.

Thus, with deadlines approaching, the teams must be relocated, and employees will surely work extra, and the manager has to push a little bit more. In short, this ends up generating unwanted stress in the office.

The strain on your Team and customer relationships

Rework can create discomfort for those who are performing the activity again and also for those who are asking for it.

The team in charge of those changes gets strained and frustrated by having to do the same thing over and over again.

A designer, for example, needs time and a lot of creativity to develop a brand’s visual identity.

Imagine the strain on this professional by having to rethink these ideas for the fifth time. It’s almost expected that the effort will not be the same as at first.

At the same time, the customer expectations will continue to be high and will question the ability of the creative team, asking for the fifth time to deliver is not comfortable for anyone and unhappy customers are not good news.

Additional costs

It may come a moment when rework is no longer viable.

When a budget is made, the commercial department calculates and measures how much the business spends to provide a particular service at a specific time.

It will be calculated how many hours the team will need to complete the project, as well as fixed expenses included, such as electricity, internet, and meals, among all others.

Therefore, when this completion time begins to exceed the initially determined time, the amount paid for the service ends up proportionally smaller, and your business begins to suffer losses.

To add things up, there are always lingering questions about who is the one to blame for rework.

These questions cause insecurity and anxiety for the team and the customer as well.

When the problem is on the table is best to seek the best possible solution then who is it to blame.

Is it common for your agency to have reworks?

Unfortunately rework is a necessary evil.

It is almost impossible to eliminate rework from business culture, as the work done will not always match exactly with what your customer wanted, that is a fact.

Rework point out systemic issues, given that it arises from the systems or processes you use daily. But it’s not just your problem. Mucha of that that flows into your systems comes from other project participants, all of those who take part in the process of giving a creative piece to a client, designers, and project managers alike. To truly tame rework you have to start from scratch.

The intention should be to make big requests into small changes, and there are a few simple actions that can be put into place to do so. Let’s check those out!

Time tracking & estimation

1. Focus on planning actions

To avoid rework, the first step is to build efficient planning.

It is important to get as much information as possible about the work to be done and to plan the process in advance, thus avoiding surprises during the production phase.

Many managers make the mistake of trying to speed up the planning phase and get stuck in the execution due to a lack of ideas to accomplish what’s been requested.

Creating efficient planning makes it clear what the customer needs are and how the manager can offer a service to meet them.

Therefore, data must also be documented, meetings should be held regularly, and there should be well-defined phases and delegated actions for each employee.

2. Automate some actions

Rework can also occur when there is disorganization in the distribution and delegation of tasks. It is therefore important to use platforms and systems that automate and standardized some actions.

This way, the whole team can look for information in one place and centralize the progress of the processes.

This process automation is especially necessary for businesses where multiply employees perform the same functions.

In addition, the systems are especially necessary to provide reports and data analysis, avoiding calculation errors and incorrect data entry by employees.

Another advantage is that technology reduces costs by redirecting human resources to perform the most important activities

3. Keep communication flowing

Truthfully, a lot of rework could be avoided by focusing on one very important part of every job: communication.

When it comes to taking project information from a client or wanting to resolve issues or get work done quickly, people often neglect effective communication.

This may be one of the greatest causes of rework; the lack of clear and open communication has the power to undermine the whole process.

It is therefore important to value the questions, as simple as they may seem, to describe the planning and tasks to the fullest. But also, the team must be in tune and share information about the project.

In addition, the client communication channel needs to be direct and efficient. It needs to be available to make answering staff questions and give faster feedback possible when needed. Customer relationships can grow when you build trust and you never know, a job well done is a door open to new customers. Word of mouth, especially in creative environments, assure new clients, so don’t take that for granted.

4. Conduct periodic training

Often, rework arises from an incorrect or obsolete way of doing something. With technological advances, the way of working in many industries has drastically changed for the better.

To avoid this lag, the best thing is to conduct periodic training for yourself and your team members.

Training can motivate teams and open the minds of employees to new ways of getting even better results while spending less time.

These alignments also help the parties involved to understand every part of the process and they can now act collaboratively rather than individually

5. Establish phases in the process

After planning, you need to establish phases in the process. From large to small businesses, by organizing this way, the manager can identify processes that require more time and more people and which processes can be eliminated or reorganized.

Moreover, this is where actions can be delegated to people with a clear delivery time and avoid future excuses.

There must also be a formal agreement, described in the client contract, about the rules for changing metrics, as well as the time limits for orders and deadlines.

For example, establish that, upon the final delivery, the client will have three days to submit all necessary changes, beyond that date, there will be an extra charge for it.

Avoiding late customer complaints by giving a clear schedule, and giving precise dates also assures workflows in previous phases flow in the direction you want, which ultimately is your customer satisfaction.

How to avoid rework in your agency

1. Create a Quality Process

Preventing reworks and errors is more effective than spending time and resources fixing problems after they occur. Your agency needs to have a quality process in place to document standards and provide guidelines for work.

Document the steps that should be taken at each stage of a project or task and what needs to happen before moving forward. This process may include a check by a manager, submitting documentation, or a peer evaluation. That way, quality, and completeness can be assessed before moving on to the next piece, and any problems can be fixed sooner.

Consider having written instructions or guidelines for tasks that are completed less frequently, such as seasonally or once a year, to ensure that they are done right.

2. Use a checklist

Having a detailed checklist of what needs to be done ensures that no steps are forgotten or overlooked, which will reduce reworks. This can be based on your overall quality process. Make sure that the creatives complete and submit their work that was done so that a record exists that can be referenced at a later date and used to update project timelines. Mobile forms are an easy way for techs to submit checklists while out in the field or at a job site.

Also, completing a checklist and leaving notes can help someone else to pick up more easily on where a task was left off if a job needs to be finished later.

3. Prioritize Task Assignments

It’s important to play to the strengths of the members of your team and prioritize which tasks are assigned to which people. Reduce the potential for an avoidable error by giving more complicated tasks to more experienced people, or having less experienced creatives work together. Some jobs require more specialized skills or training, so assign these tasks to designers who will be able to tackle them more effectively. You also need to know when it’s time to call in an expert.

Jobs that need to be completed also should be given a clear level of priority so that the most crucial items are addressed first. This will ensure that work on a project continues to move forward or that work orders are completed in a timely way.

4. Plan out your Work

As the saying goes, “ failing to plan is planning to fail”. Work that needs to be completed should be planned out on a daily and weekly basis ( as much as possible). That way, you can lump similar tasks together or jobs that need to be completed at the same time so that time is used more efficiently. This also should help to reduce jumping back and forth between unrelated things, which tends to be less productive.

Having a timeline and plan of work that is updated frequently allows you to keep clients and supervisors informed of progress and make adjustments when necessary.

5. Provide Training

Employees that are thoroughly trained in processes and have standards to keep them accountable for how a job is completed are more likely to do things right the first time. Training sessions should be held regularly to reinforce standards or go over any changes.

Project Profitability

How to handle rework with your customers

To guarantee your customer loyalty you must provide great customer service. Be on the lookout and keep the following in mind:

Manage expectations

Make sure you understand your customer’s expectations, and never assume you know better than they do what they want. : Managing expectations and having open communication with the people that are using or paying for the work to be completed is a must!

Prototype Often!

Create prototypes and show them for valuable customer feedback. Frequent prototyping is a way to make sure you’re on the right page. A prototype is not a finished product. The purpose of a prototype is to get the customer’s thoughts and let them cut it up. If you spent all your time and effort developing the prototype and they start ripping it apart, you will want to cry. Put together a proof of concept and run it by them. If you’re on the wrong page, they’ll let you know rather sooner than later.

Collaboration is a diamond gem

Using a good collaboration tool or technique will help open up the communications between the customer and designer. What a concept to have the designer and the customer in the same room together. Both probably see each other as rather difficult people and would rather prefer to skip that meeting. However, if they both contribute to painting the picture of what they want, there will be none of this back and forth that happens with so many product development efforts, saving both time and money.

The customer actually knows what he wants

Very often, they know exactly what they want, but can’t articulate it to you. A lot of customers see designers and developers as creative people with lots of skill and knowledge and don´t want to step in over their creativity. They think “ who knows, the designer may come up with something that is better than anything I could ever have dreamt for”

Verify requirements and assumptions

Make sure that your understanding of the task at hand is the same as other customers’ understanding of that same requirement. Also, the designer and developer of a product may read the same requirement and get yet another take on it. So, verify and validate with the customer as well as the technical team that will design or develop it.


To sum up, rework can be prevented from happening if we take the time to draw an efficient team management and organization route to eliminate it.

Planning is key. Gather all the intel that you can about the project, and stay in touch with your customer. Feedback through the process is vital as well. You’ll see the chances for rework will diminish.

To avoid rework you must gain knowledge about running your business and that comes with experience, so this is an excellent heads up, wouldn’t you say that?


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