Content strategy risks: Getting projects on track from the start

  • By Melissa Breker
  • |
  • Nov 3 2016
Categories: |Ideas

The risk of getting stuck

At the beginning of any web content strategy project, things are exciting.

You’ve heard the good news.  The project is going ahead and you can finally pull together a team to get things underway. You consider who needs to be included and how you’ll pull the pieces together.

You kick off the project and ball starts rolling.

But somehow, as you get going, something happens. The project feels like it’s starting to lose momentum. It feels frustrating or a little bumpy. It feels a little like this:

the-dip-by-seth-godin

What could possibly go wrong?

Okay, so I’m not a certified project manager. But I’ve been involved with multiple content strategy projects over the years and unfortunately, I’ve seen the impact of poorly planned projects first-hand.

The bad news

According to the Project Management Institute: Pulse of the Profession 2015: Capturing the Value of Project Management 2015 only 64% of projects meet their goals.

Worse yet:

  • 39% of all projects succeed (delivered on time, on budget, and with required features and functions)
  • 43% are challenged (late, over budget, and/or with fewer than the required features and functions)
  • 18% fail (either cancelled prior to completion or delivered and never used)

Not good, right?

That’s why it’s critical to understand issues and possible “dips”, before your project gets underway.

3 steps for reducing content strategy risks

Here’s the good news: it doesn’t need to be this way. The key is to understand when, where, what, why, and how your project may shift and plan for possible issues.

Here’s how to make that happen.

  1. Identify risks before the project begins.

Plan for the slowdown and determine the issues that need to be resolved. Create a plan to help identify an approach that address the risks in advance. Think about how you can remove resistance (because you’ll face resistance no matter how great your project is).

  1. Take their perspective

See where they would win and what’s in it for them. Why should they care? Help them understand why they should get on board. What might hold them back? Use empathy to take their perspective so you can support them through the current roadblock or issue. Ask people to come with a solution, in addition to the problem.

Whether it’s your project stakeholders, or subject matter experts, look for ways to identify advocates and supporters who will become your champion or allies.

  1. For each issue you’ve identified, ask yourself, “How can we stay on track? What can we do to reduce or remove this issue? Can we tap into other resources to get things done?

Capture as many ideas as you can. You could use a table like this:

a-project-table

Finally: ask for help

People like to help. Think about other people in your organization, who may be able to offer support, give you a different perspective, and help you determine any biases that may impact your thinking. By thinking ahead of possible content strategy risks, you can get your project on track, right from the start.

Further reading

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