Project creators: how to manage delivery estimates in rewards-based crowdfunding

I am surprised that project creators are still over promising on estimated delivery, given all the crowdfunding platforms, intermediaries and advice available to them.

The knock-on effect is that, as a backer, any bad experience I have today will bias my perception of and support for crowdfunding in the future. I am less likely to back a project in the future if my current experience includes no communication from project creators and/or delayed delivery.

In other words, future project creators carry the cost of past project creators failing backers.

The onus lies on today’s project creators to make sure that they are delivering the product and service to backers advertised in their crowdfunding campaign.

So, what should project creators do?

In general:

1) Be realistic about estimated shipping dates

In your project plan, add variables for writing, manufacturing and shipping issues and delays. For example, if you think that your product will be ready in October 2014, make an estimated shipping date of December 2014.

Rather surprise your backers with perceived early shipping instead of disappointing your backers with delayed shipping.

2) Complete a scenario analysis

Create a scenario analysis on the funding goal and number of backers.

At a minimum, create a scenario analysis for exceeding the funding goal by 5x, 10x, and +15x.

Do the exact same analysis for number of backers.

The scenario analysis should include:

  • the probability of the funding goal being exceeded;
  • the impact on the supply chain, especially if there is an increase in the number of backers;
  • the project risks of increased funding and number of backers (resources needed, time, tax, budgeting etc.);
  • an action plan for each scenario.

3) Communicate with you backers

Communicate, communicate, communicate. After all, it is the backers’ money you are using to launch you product, novel, business etc. If your backers were investors, you would make sure that you communicate with them.

Show a basic courtesy to backers and keep them in the loop.

Alternative view: delivery management considerations for each stage of a campaign

You should manage delivery expectations and actual delivery during each stage of the crowdfunding campaign:

Pre-campaign: make sure your project plan includes variables and generous time allowances for manufacturing and shipping.

During the campaign: be realistic and react dynamically to the campaign. If you see that the funding goal and expected number of backers will be exceeded, then start brainstorming and implementing the plans for increased volume of product and customers.

Post campaign: communicate at regular intervals with backers. Regular intervals can be every fortnight or monthly. If there is delayed delivery, tell backers sooner rather than later. Also give a new delivery estimate that you can keep.