Whether we work for ourselves, or we work as part of a bigger business, we should always be accountable for what we do. Clients, bosses, and bank managers will always want to see us demonstrate that we are working steadily towards achieving goals.
Project management has become a specialized task in it’s own right. Dedicated project managers delegate tasks, ensure people complete those tasks, and generally keep projects on track. However, project management should permeate all we do. We’re all project managers, especially those of us involved in long and complex tasks, like PPC campaigns.
The principles of project management are simple. A complex task is broken down into a series of manageable, measureable steps leading to a desired outcome, achieved in an acceptable timeframe. If we manage ourselves – or others – well, we free up time, and save ourselves a lot of grief.
Here’s how to manage a PPC project:
Define The Outcome
Whether you’re dealing with a client, or undertaking your own project, you have to know exactly what you’re aiming to achieve.
Write the objective down down, as clearly and succinctly as possible. If a client is vague about outcomes, it’s best to push them to get clarity at this point. Once a project is underway, it becomes difficult – and time consuming – to change course.
Define The Process That Delivers The Outcome
Once you have an outcome – a destination – defined, you should now plot a high-level course showing how you’ll get there. If the project is short i.e. a day or two, then your don’t really need to define a process. However, if the project takes a while – and most PPC campaigns do – then a process becomes important, because the client will want to see you demonstrate that progress is being made.
The benefits of having a clearly-defined process is that it shows the client what is involved, and when things are likely to happen. It reassures the client that things will happen in an orderly, accountable fashion i.e. there is less chance of being surprised, and that the client is in control of the process.
For example, a PPC process might look like this:
- Establish and define objectives
- Create written reporting plan, setting out milestones. Client to approve reporting plan and milestones.
- Report on each milestone. Client to review and provide feedback at each stage.
- Deliver final milestone. Provide final project report.
- Sign off
Break The Project Down Into Steps
Climbing a mountain begins with a single step. And then another. And then another. Eventually, we’ve scaled the mountain.
Likewise, a project is made less intimidating if broken down into a series of small steps. The client doesn’t need to know each technical step. However, the steps lead to each milestone.
The benefits are two-fold. One, a complex task becomes a lot more manageable. Two, reporting is built into the process. Clients almost always appreciate progress reports, which also provides you with an opportunity to seek valuable feedback and clarification.
Say What You’ll Do, Do It, And Tell Them You’ve Done It
If you do what you say you’ll do, even if it’s a small thing, you will build trust.
Sometimes, it’s easy to think that because you know what you’re doing, that the client will automatically perceive it. This isn’t necessarily so. Demonstrating competence, at regular intervals, is often required in order to build trust.
No matter how well we plan at the early stages, there will always be tweaks and adjustments that need to be made.
By integrating multiple opportunities for feedback, we can also alter and add steps we may have missed, or didn’t define clearly enough.
Focus On The Next Step
After the first step, comes the next step, and so on. At each stage, we keep the client informed, integrating feedback, redefining and adding tasks as necessary. Each stage leads us closer to our goal, and everyone is clear about what needs to be done, and what the outcome will be.
Repeat the steps/reporting/integrating process until the desired outcome is achieved.
Consider making the first milestones easy-wins, especially if the client is new. This helps create trust, which may be needed if other milestones become difficult.
Make a note of which tasks require other people, and get buy-in from them as soon as is practicable. In many ways, other workers are like clients in that they benefit from feeling they have an element of control.
The more complex a project – especially projects that require multiple people to hit time targets before others can start – the more useful project management software becomes, however a lot of project management software is simply overkill for PPC.
No surprises – for anyone 🙂