If you’ve already read our previous post, you understand the importance of proper planning prior to starting a project. This involves identifying decision makers, defining goals, setting a budget and timeline, and thinking through the end process. But what actually happens once a project is under way? Are you familiar with all of the steps that happen behind the scenes to make sure a project launches on time and is effective? Let’s look at a few things that have to happen to get your project off the ground.
Identify Team Members
Once a project is ready to launch, you need to identify team members who will be working on the project so you don’t overwhelm your staff or have time unnecessarily wasted. Include only the team members that will be directly involved with the project and assign them their specific roles.
For example, with an email, we know that our copywriter, graphic designer, proofer, creative director, project manager, account manager, and interactive director will have assignments. This seems like a lot of people, and while you may think some don’t need to be assigned to a seemingly simple email, that’s not the case. Don’t underestimate the importance of a proofer having eyes on a project or the time spent when an account manager works with the client for approval prior to launch. All of these small steps take time and are necessary to make sure the email is successful.
Dependencies, Risks, and Assumptions
Keep in mind when scheduling a project that there are certain steps that are dependent on one another. In keeping with the email example, a graphic can’t be designed until the headline copy is proofed. Similarly, the interactive director can’t begin building out the email until it has been client approved. All of these steps are part of a process and can’t always begin concurrently. This is also important to realize when timelines involve feedback or client approval. If feedback takes an extra day to receive, the whole schedule shifts, rather than just that one piece of the puzzle.
How to Track and Monitor
Just as much as the client, we here at Catalyst want to see each marketing effort we work on succeed, which is why we track and monitor all of the pieces we put out. Consider the goals you set back at the beginning of the project and determine how you’re going to find out if you met those. This includes setting KPIs (key performance indicators) and determining how you’re going to track them. For emails, we monitor open rates, click rates, bounce rates, and more to see how many people engage with items such as a certain subject line or an offer.
For larger or ongoing projects, this may result in longer time frames, such as social media management. You will need to monitor and track results over a period of weeks or months rather than days to determine if your strategy is effective.
While these steps include the larger pieces of project management, there are smaller key steps that you have to consider. When you’re planning a project or considering an estimate, keep in mind the following:
- Estimates are based on effort, not the delivery time! Whether an email is to be delivered in one week or in two days, it goes through all of the same people and has just as much of a process involved.
- Accuracy is crucial! While proofing or in-house approval steps may seem small, they ensure that the final deliverable is accurate, which in the long run, leads to being effective.
- Consider your team’s workload! Don’t overschedule your team thinking they can rush through one job or put something off until later. This will only delay additional projects and may result in your priority project not having your team’s full attention.
At the end of the day, be prepared for unforeseen delays, but try to plan for every possible contingency. Make sure you build in enough time for every step along the way, and you’re likely to relieve yourself of unnecessary stress. Also, keep in mind that every project is different, and there may be a learning curve to catch up to. It’s OK if not every single step goes the way you expected — just make sure you take that into account for future projects and always improve upon yourself.
Are you curious about other steps that go into project management and the process we follow? Feel free to email me or contact our account managers for more details on everything we handle at Catalyst.