How to rein in your runaway projects

April marks the beginning of “presentation season” for our marketing department.

It’s a two-month period when we focus on a mammoth project that once sucked up time and resources all year long.

At my company, we produce an array of presentations for staffers to use when meeting with their various clients. There is a new business presentation (for prospects), an account services presentation (for standard clients) and several line-of-business presentations for specialized clients. We work with different departments and different sets of stakeholders for each presentation.

Before we took our “presentation season” approach, we worked on these presentations throughout the year. Account services team members needed theirs in October. Sales reps needed theirs in January, though our year-end numbers typically are not available until April.

We ended up with differing versions of all our presentations—which we were continually updating, all the while juggling other content demands from stakeholders. (“Can the opening slide of our presentation be green instead of blue?”) It was a frustrating, time-wasting morass.

Thus we have “presentation season.”

During “presentation season,” we ask that all changes and content updates from our stakeholders be submitted in April. Because this deadline coincides with when our year-end numbers are available, we work hard during this month to make sure we have the latest information from all stakeholders. Also, if any redesigning or rearranging is necessary, we complete that in April.

Next, we spend May updating the differing presentations and obtaining approvals from all stakeholders. May is “speak now or forever hold your peace” month.

We make it clear to everyone that we will not make any content updates or design changes to presentations after May 31. What they receive on June 1 is the presentation to be used until we revisit the process the following year.

Although there is an astounding amount of back-and-forth and up-and-down wrangling about content, commas and colors, that wrangling occurs only in May, not all year.

By intently focusing on this project for a short time and enforcing deadlines, we end up with presentations that meet everyone’s needs, better collaboration among our department and stakeholders, reasonable timelines for everyone and less frustration all around.

If only redesigning the Intranet could be that easy.

How about your PR Daily readers? How do you manage out-of-control projects?

 

This post was first published on Ragan Communication’s PR Daily.

 

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