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February 23, 2017 Adam Petraglia

Please, step into my office. Now, I’ll admit my corner cubicle suite is not your typical corporate workspace. No, it has Christmas lights that twinkle year-round, a magical sombrero thinking cap for when I’m running on empty, and an array of motivational quotes ranging from Disney princesses to Ralph Waldo Emerson to Babe Ruth.

[x_button shape=”rounded” size=”large” float=”right” href=”http://cdn.douglasshaw.com/20170223191251/Douglas-Shaw-Associates_Marketing-Calendar-Template.zip” title=”Get your Communication calendar” target=”blank” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]Get Your FREE Communication Calendar[/x_button]Once my early morning jitters settle after chugging a Big Gulp, I’m ready to buckle up and get the engines started! Are you ready? Then let’s go . . .

Now, we’re not starting our engines for the Indy 500, or even managing air traffic atop the control tower at O’Hare. We are delivering direct mail success to our partner organizations, and I am a faithful Account Coordinator. It is my job to make sure projects come to fruition without skipping a beat. It is my duty—and unwavering integrity—that keeps my sights on helping ministries reach their goals by managing projects with the utmost care and attention, as if they were my own babies. And that may mean changing a few dirty diapers.

Since there’s never enough giving in this world, I’ve decided to give you my 4 Tips To Better Project Management. It is my hope that these are not new to you, but rather a light refreshment to rejuvenate your project management style, and provide you with a new template for project organization.

#1 Grab Ahold Of The Reins!

However you want to imagine it, whether you’re sitting atop a horse-drawn buggy or steering a Clydesdale-led hitch, grab ahold of the reins! Every project that is assigned to me has a life of about 8-10 weeks from initial strategy to the moment donors lay their eyes on it. If you were to ask me, at any given moment, where a project is in the process, when a specific deadline is supposed to hit, I can give you a flawless response. By understanding and knowing the whereabouts and tendencies of multiple projects moving simultaneously, I eliminate the chance for details to slip through the cracks . . . details which could threaten the mail date and possibly lead us to miss the prime window to receive the best possible response from your donors.

#2 Delta Sierra Alpha

I don’t know about you, but communication is my best friend. We hang out every day. We agree to disagree, we hug, we make up . . . all within a matter of minutes. When I am communicating, I must be clear. Whether that means strolling through the office for a face-to-face discussion, dusting off the landline, or sending a messenger butterfly, our message and meaning must be crystal clear. As Douglas Shaw & Associates, we work in a team environment, so communication must flow efficiently across all players in all departments . . . so the project strategy remains clear for everyone involved. Otherwise, we risk returning to that childhood game, “Telephone” . . . and it would not end well.

#3 Adaptability

We live in an ever-changing environment. In addition to changing our clothes every day, we are presented with business related changes every day. And as the only intelligent species out there (or so we think . . .), we are programmed to adapt to changes in order to succeed in our new environment; one that is stronger and more efficient. These include changes within our industry and changes within the life of the projects that are underway . . . a delay in getting copy from the writer, a change in the story, or a last-minute matching gift has been received, a change in design. In some cases, changes like these could derail a project completely. But we Project Managers have it in our blood to understand and accept the reason behind the change, to adapt, and to create a solution without missing a beat. Without the ability to adapt quickly to change, projects will wind up in the project graveyard. The days are filled with change and our success lies in our ability to adapt to those changes.

#4 Let Me Pencil You In

While you still might be in awe as you gaze around my cubicle in wonder, adorning my cubicle alongside the photos of my adorable nieces and nephew and the Marquette championship banner from 1977, are a variety of calendars. Mail dates are important in our line of work and it is our top priority to hit those mail dates. When you consider that I serve several clients . . . each with multiple direct mail projects and accompanying digital projects . . . and snack club on Wednesdays, my calendars are quite full! By designing a beautifully impeccable landscape of mail dates, review deadlines, digital execution dates, report cutoffs, (and birthdays) across 365 days, we will hit our dates. A stacked, but neat calendar enhances our project management skills by helping us keep our eyes on the target dates, the goals of your ministry, and enables us to work proactively into the future. And it makes sure we have snacks come Wednesday.

My Gift To You

As promised, I’m not letting you go empty-handed. We have included a Communication Calendar for you to download for your own use. This is one of the many calendars that keeps us from straying too far in the pasture, and probably keeps us sane. To all Project Managers out there, take command and grab those reins! It is your ability to communicate thoroughly and precisely with your clients and interoffice team that make you and your projects successful. So even when those high winds pick up, don’t be afraid to adjust, stay focused, and stretch to catch that deep fly ball. And remember, it’s not official until you pencil it in.

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