The right mix of planning, monitoring, and controlling can make the difference in completing a project on time, on budget, and with high quality results.

Juggling multiple client accounts as a full-service agency, while at the same time making sure that we do not drop a ball is our mainstay in giving our clients the best service experience possible. Successful project management is both an art in itself as it is a science, and it requires careful planning before executing any tasks. Project management works like a kitchen. Like the kitchen staff have a number of orders to get ready for their guests to enjoy, so we have to manage several projects at The Ad Store Zambia on a daily basis. It is therefore crucial that our dishes are approached in The Ad Store kitchen with high level of professionalism, to deliver the impeccable quality that our clients deserve. It is only by running our kitchen in the best of way that success can be achieved. So what specifically, are the main ingredients to the perfect project management recipe? Here they are, to my experience:

First thing first, take the order

As a waiter takes your order at the restaurant, possibly enquiring about allergies, preferences and personal tastes, the most important step is firstly, to understand your client’s needs and then define your project through effective communication and clarification of a project’s goals with the customer in order to develop The Client Brief. It is therefore very important that you Listen and Pay Close Attention to the customer and their needs as the shared details in the discussion act as your beacon of light and reference throughout the project. Having an explicitly detailed Client Brief that outlines all the goals, objectives, creative direction, a strategic approach and deliverables is a must!
It is at this stage that the client’s challenges are also identified through the information shared in a detailed discussion through extensive questions and complete answers obtained from the customer. By mastering and navigating this information it is then easy to mitigate the possibilities of providing substandard or incomplete work.

Cooking up the main course: your strategy

Armed with our Client Brief and once we have gathered other necessary information, the next step is to put everything into perspective in a brainstorm session with the entire team and come up with our Big Ideas (concepts) and execution plan. It is important to start our creative process by ensuring that all team members understand the business need for the project at hand to achieve the desired result.

1. THE APIT FORMULA

One thing we pride ourselves with at The Ad Store Zambia is formulating and employing a great in-house process that has proven to be essential in all our past successful projects. The APIT Formula is an acronym for AIM, PROPLEM, INTUITION and TASK coined during a brainstorm session for a prospective client on the 2nd of April 2016 by Chipika Simanwe our Creative Director and myself. Therefore, it is always our endeavor to administer this formula in the approach of resolving our clients’ issues in all our projects.
Our main aim during our brainstorm sessions and going through The APIT Formula process is also to come up with a good plan that highlights the most important steps and tasks that are necessary for completing the project successfully. It is important to understand the deliverables and goals of the project as this helps to:

  • Clearly define the scope of work
  • Assess what resources we require to achieve our goals including the amount of time needed, personnel and necessary budget for success.
  • Set Clear and realistic deadlines. It is imperative to have clear and realistic deadlines at the beginning of a project as it keeps the team on track.

2. SET UP YOUR KITCHEN LINE

Selecting the right talent or people to work on a project team is another important factor. Once the team has been formulated, the next important thing is achieving and maintaining team buy-in, constant motivation and collaboration on the project/ Big Idea, as this will fuel the team’s belief in the idea and their passion to preserve the project’s unique vision.
Having clear communication of the outlined project tasks with the team allows for effective and efficient workflow. Developing a well-organized strategy and activity plan is very crucial as this helps team members to understand their individual roles, to streamline our internal and external processes, meet all of the challenges, scheduled deliverables and deadlines as well as ensure quality control.
It is inevitable that some obstacles will be met on the journey to the successful completion of any project and therefore very important that team spirit is encouraged so that the project team works diligently together and coordinate their efforts. By tracking the progress of the project at each stage, our team is able to stay on track and deliver work that exceeds the clients’ expectations.

Presentation, presentation, presentation

That being said, I believe that good presentation is everything and can never be over emphasized as it brings all our brilliant concepts to life. Before any client presentation, it is wise to have a comprehensive in-house review of the complete project proposal to ensure that the team has brought it’s A-Game to the project production, in-turn providing solutions that adequately address the client’s challenges and needs. Ensuring that great attention to detail of the Client Brief was adhered to during the entire creative process is crucial to impressing clients as you take them on an exciting aesthetic journey that meets and exceeds their expectations.

Don’t forget calory count: monitoring and evaluating

Once the client is happy with the presented strategy, it is now time to put our plans is into action. Monitoring and evaluation of the scheduled activities on our execution plan, both during and after the project is completed assists the team to:

  • Measure our achievements against the original goals and the amount of resources used.
  • Gives us perspective on the progress as well as measures the effectiveness of the agreed plan of action at every stage.
  • Enable the team to stay on task and complete the project in a timely manner.
  • Reduce unnecessary human error.
  • Obtain for multiple proofs and approvals for each project.
  • Track actions for better accountability.

The Author

Mwanza Mpepo

Country Manager @ The Ad Store Zambia

If you want to know more about our approach to Project Menagement, email me at mpepo@adstore.co.zm

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