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Friday, April 15, 2011

Toward a 10-Step Project Management Framework for the Crisis-Addicted


Crises are so fun, aren’t they? They give us that little “high,” after all…but they are no way to live. Especially when you have to track numerous projects of varying kinds.

I know there is a huge literature out there on project management, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to reach creative professionals all that often. Maybe because we’d rather spend our time being creative than thinking about this stuff.

Therefore I offer a really really simple approach. I am hoping that others build on this so that we can ultimately “open-source” what should be a side process that enables us to focus on the work we’re getting paid for.

Maybe the most important result that I am hoping for is that project management becomes a part of our vocabulary. Just like we get that outreach should ideally be subsumed under a larger brand

I did the best I could to make this visually interesting, but if it looks childish – at least you’re reading it right?

P.S. This framework is my own and not endorsed by anyone. At least not yet.

Step 1: Recognize (That A Project Is Knocking At The Door - Before You Accept It)

1. Confidential
2. Crisis
3. Event
4. Campaign
5. Standalone (can be part of a series, like a publication)

Now STOP!


Don’t make a move. No working! Nothing happens till the project is justified and tracked.

Step 2: Justify

• Is this necessary?
• What priority level does it have?
• Do we have staff and resources to carry it out?
• If not, who will provide?

Step 3: Document

• Determine the project scope. What will “completed work” look like? Keep it very specific.
• Assign a tracking number (see coding system per project type)

Type

How Coded

Confidential

Blanket code – e.g. “001”

Crisis

Blanket code + topic – e.g. “002-Flooding”

Event

Blanket code + category tag + topic – e.g. “003-Speech-Shoelaces”

Campaign

Blanket code + topic (e.g. “004-Benefits Open Season”)

Standalone

Blanket code + category tag + topic, if applicable – e.g. “005-Regular Newsletter-Benefits”


• Decide who will lead and staff the project
• Determine milestones and deadlines
• Write all this down and have the customer sign off on it.

OK, now you can really go.

Step 4: Do the Work

• Tracking number provided to customer
• Project lead name provided to customer
• Status checks
• Scope/schedule readjustments

Step 5: Delivery #1 – Review & Adjust Internally

Step 6: Delivery #2 - Review & Adjust With Customer

Step 7: Delivery #3 – Review & Adjust "All Together Now"

Step 8: Delivery – Final

• Internal and External stakeholders present
• Final feedback solicited from all
• Final adjustments made/plans finalized

Step 9: Action - Rollout, Launch, Kickoff, Distribution, Event Held, etc.


Step 10: After-Action Review

• Obtain feedback from customer
• Note in job tracking system that project is closed

Project management is a tough discipline. But in the end it is worth it.

Break the rules and you'll find short-term reward. Sure you may please the customer by letting them make the rules. But long-term this is problematic, because improvised commitments tend to multiply and get easily broken.

Consider being boring. Underpromise and overdeliver.

You may not be the most dazzling communication shop out there. But then again, "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM."

* All opinions, as always, are my own and my posts do not represent anyone else's point of view.