I offer a wide array of services that include logo design, illustration, character design, toy design and animation, to name a few. The various projects that come into the studio require quite the collection of tools ranging from Photoshop, Illustrator, MODO, and more. There’s one tool that I use that can be far more valuable than any in my arsenal, and I’d like to give it to you… free of charge. It is one of my most valuable tools, and you can download it right now and put it to use on your next project.
So what is this amazing “tool” that you’re going to download at the end of this post? It’s a simple form. That’s right! A simple form, but as simple as the form may be, it is extremely powerful. So powerful, in fact, that it can become a life saver during production on just about any job. The form that I’m talking about is, a Change Authorization Form, and I started using it back in the mid 90′s and haven’t stopped since.
A Change Authorization form is a simple form that documents any changes the client has requested that fall outside of the original contract that both parties have agreed to and signed. It’s important to note that last sentence. Why? Because you really have to spell out your deliverables in a contract before starting any type of project. If your client asks for changes that falls outside of the agreed upon time line or deliverables, you have to decide on whether or not to charge for the additional time and/or work that will go into completing the newly assigned tasks.
“Changes are not only possible and predictable, but to deny them is to be an accomplice to one’s own unnecessary vegetation.” -Gail Sheehy
Keep in mind, it’s extremely rare to work on any project and not have some form of changes from the client. Since our task as commercial artists is usually to try and read our clients mind and deliver what they’re after, this process usually takes a little back and forth, it’s the nature of the profession we have chosen. Because of these unavoidable circumstances, you’ll want to include a set number of revisions in the contract so that both parties feel comfortable going in. Too few and the client may not get what they’re after. Too many and the artist may find themselves in a never ending production that suffers from “feature creep.”
As long as it’s clearly defined, any changes that fall outside of the contract should be greeted with a change authorization form. Even if you don’t plan on charging the client for the changes, it’s a good idea to formally document them so you can track any and all changes that may come up during production. It’s a great resource that has saved my butt several times when a client asks “Why did you change that?” or “Who approved this change?” The form will clearly show why changes were made, who approved them, and how it has affected the project’s time and budget.
So what does a change authorization form consist of?
Change Authorization Form at a Glance
There are no set rules for what needs to be in a change authorization form, but I like to make sure it at least clearly informs both parties involved the details of the changes that are being requested.
The list below has most of the key elements you’ll want to include in the form.
- Name of Client
- Name of Artist/Studio producing the work
- Who requested the change
- Date the request was submitted
- Description of change
- Reason for Change
- Estimated costs associated with change (Time/Money)
- Impact on total budget and schedule
- If approved, who approved the change
You can customize the form to include or remove any details to fit what works best for you or your studio. You can submit one form per change or simply attach a separate document and reference it in the “description of change” portion.
The change authorization form protects both you and your client and can help keep your production running smooth. The form can also reduce the amount of unneeded changes as it forces both the artist/studio and the client to examine the requested change closely before jumping in haphazardly. Remember, you don’t have to charge for every change, but I highly recommend documenting every change you decide to accommodate.
Tip: Include a copy of a blank change authorization form with the initial contract and explain to your client that the form will be the proper method for requesting changes. It will immediately let the client know that changes outside the scope of the contract may add to the cost of the project.
I hope you find the Change Authorization Form as useful as I have over the years. By using the information above you can create a custom form from scratch to use or simply download the example below. Enjoy, and happy changes!