Herding Cats and Taming Beasts: Solutions to Unruly Projects
- AuthorBruce Sanderson
- Date 8 September 2015
Nothing is more misleading than a print job down the road. From far away it seems simple enough: just get the concept, get the estimate, get it approved, send it off to the vendor, and bam! You’ve got a beautiful piece in your hands in no time flat, right?
Take a few steps closer to the project, and you’ll start to see lot more of its complications. What seemed like ten steps can multiply to thirty. The chaos can get further compounded by the multitude of voices on your team. A process that normally would have required five emails somehow elicits twenty as each team member pipes in. Not only are you trying to tame a beast that is much larger than it initially appeared… but you’re trying to herd cats on your team in order to do it!
Here at SPC have seen this mess pile up again and again. From a printer’s vantage point, we have a lot of experience and expertise in what it takes to bring a project to fruition. A printer can’t do everything, and when a client is lost in a maze of endless emails and vague deadlines, there’s only so much we can do to guide them. So we’d like to offer our advice before you embark on your next marcom journey.
One of the easiest fixes for any project is to slim down your communication. If you feel like you’re herding cats every time you send an email, get rid of the herd! Having a communication leader is critical in coordinating this process. A trustworthy leader will be able to act as a key liaison between team members, stakeholders, and the vendor. Rather than a broad approach, where too many people are spending too much time going back-and-forth, an organized and need-to-know strategy is much more efficient.
While you’re narrowing your team approach, you should broaden your view of the project at hand. To understand what we mean by this, picture yourself standing in the middle of a road. On one side of you is all of the preparatory work your marcom team has to coordinate before coming to the vendor. These initial stages call for many questions. What is your concept and strategy? Is it economically viable for production? How does it apply to your brand management and development goals? Now look to your other side, towards an effective execution, distribution, and follow-up of the final project: What are the distribution goals? How will this be tracked? How will we measure our success?
When building your project, it is your job to stand directly in the middle of that road, in full view of both ends. Preparing procedures and timelines for the full completion of the project will better guard you against unexpected hitches and delays. It’ll also give you a better idea of how SPC fits into your project’s goals. It’s amazing what beasts an organized client and vendor can tackle, especially when they can see the beast coming down the road.