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Put Your Oxygen Mask on First, Before Assisting Others: On Maintaining Internal Projects.

Internal projects are often put off for client work, but making sure your internal projects reflect what you can do for your potential clients could be the factor in closing a deal.

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In the agency world, not every project is a client project. Often, internal projects sprout up — from our own website, to internal design materials, to demo sites used to prove our capabilities within a specific CMS. They’re important projects — we need these in-house projects for promotion and in sales meetings.

But they come with a trade-off: they’re built using company resources, and we don’t get paid for this work.

Which means there’s an issue of priority. With a business, it’s in their best interest to put paying work first. There might be a fight to get an “in-house,” unpaid project to the finish line, but once the project is complete, it is forgotten and seldomly updated by any team members.

But the need for that project hasn’t gone away! The website or design materials or demo site are still being used for what they were built for. You haven’t stopped promoting your business, or looking for new clients. It’s just that, over time, it’s easy to put an internal project on the backburner. The project becomes outdated — perhaps even a security vulnerability, if important updates are ignored.

This isn’t good. Internal projects are just as important as external ones. It’s like they say during the safety talk on any commercial flight: put your own oxygen mask on before you assist someone with theirs.

Let’s use vulnerabilities as an example. A CMS demo site is created to help demonstrate what the software can do, as well as your team’s ability to manipulate that software into a custom solution. But, just like any client site, a demo site can fall prey to security issues. Keeping your demo site updated not only assists in showing your team’s ability to stay on top of technology, it also keeps the development team familiarized with the solution itself, allowing them to identify and solve security issues easily. This keeps vulnerability exploits to a minimum — and makes your team look good in the process.

In other words, keep your own house in order. In fact, often, it’s simply a change in perspective. Your internal projects are client projects — it’s just that the client is you. Treating internal projects like client projects ensures that they aren’t forgotten. That they get the necessary updates. That they continue to thrive as a great example of what your team can accomplish.