The communication industry, with the print segment of this industry being no exception, has been going through an ever-accelerating rate of change. Proper project planning, sharing of information and directions for others to collaborate on projects is essential in today’s business environment. Without the proper planning, the communication of specifications and expectations, it is easy for all to move off course, miss deadlines or just fail to meet expectations. The project becomes a flop.
A simplistic way to look at this process is to define the scope of the project, then to clarify the detail. Sounds easy. It is not. It takes a lot of discipline. You can begin by comparing options, pro and con, deciding on the best course of action to follow, assembling your team and then taking a moment to ask yourself “what information would I need to do this job?”; then answer the question and write down the plan, detailed specifications and instructions for the execution. Please don’t assume that someone knows what you want. Be realistic, consider budget, time frame, resources; all the factors that will be key for the task to be completed. Who are the people that you need to involve? What is the method or the tools that are needed to finish the project? What are the results that you are expecting? And in what type of time frame do you expect them to be completed?
Instructions like: as soon as possible, or make it cheap, or it is already late, but it has to be great quality are not really helpful. Reasonable planners don’t expect the equivalent of a Rolls Royce manufactured to their specifications delivered to their driveway overnight nor do they expect to pay a dollar for it and neither do professional planners in the communications industry. Good planning needs to begin with effective fact-finding. Under today’s market pressures planners often are pushed by the organizations they work for to go, go, go and they take less time than they should to get accurate, reliable facts in place and even less time to pass on the information that they know. Emotion and plain old stress can make people focus on the charged environment around them and forget the key process issues. If you haven’t clearly defined the who, what, where, when and how along with all the details surrounding the project, clearly written them out in an overall plan and then broken them down into specific, concise instructions for each collaborator for their specific part of the project, consider going back to the drawing board. First focusing on how to make improvements in the process. Too many times there isn’t enough time or budget to plan the project and do it right the first time but there also seems to be enough time and budget to do it again. The experienced, detail oriented professional is the one who gets it right the first time.