Tag Archives: Project Plan

Planning to win



July in The New Forest and walking in the open forest is what summer evenings were made for. The sun is shining and the forest looks very different than it did six weeks ago, let alone six months ago. It’s a sea of green with bracken growing up to six feet high intermingled with gorse bushes. As Lucy (the dog) and I walk along, a strong twittering and chirping attracts our attention. The source of the agitated chirruping soon becomes apparent. Standing on the highest branch of a nearby gorse bush, a male Stonechat guards his nest. His equally agitated mate sits in a tree nearby, noisily encouraging us to move away. We move on and leave the birds to their solitude.

In the winter, it’s possible to walk anywhere in the open forest, apart from the boggy areas. In the summer, the ponies and visitors follow pre-defined paths through the bracken. You can still walk anywhere but it’s much more difficult to force your way through the bracken. It can be dangerous too as you can’t see where you’re walking – you wouldn’t want to tread on an adder!

We follow the well worn paths through the forest in same way that we follow the well worn plans that help us to manage our projects. How often so we stop and think about other ways of approaching our work? Just because it was done this way last time and the time before doesn’t make it right. Did we involve the right people – the people at the sharp end? Did we check the results of last year’s project? Was an evaluation of last year’s project ever written?

Take time to think about your plans and see if there might be a better way or at least a different way to reach the end goal. There almost certainly will be. Don’t make the mistake that just about every politician makes with depressing regularity – don’t fight the battles in this war with the strategy from the last war. Time moves on and the environment changes – ask the Polish Cavalry!

So think about looking for a new path but watch out for any adders along the way.


Rob Horlock specialises in part time project management and in helping the commercial side of businesses to manage projects ands improve individual and team working efficiencies. If you would like to find out more, see www.ef-ef.co.uk or email: info@ef-ef.co.uk If you’re looking for a new job – advice here: www.mynextrole.co.uk


When is a project a project?

Many pieces of work carried out in a typical marketing dept can be classified as projects.

  • A new product launch
  • A sales promotion
  • A new ad campaign
  • A brand extension
  • A packaging update
Managing Marketing projects

Managing Marketing projects

All are discrete pieces of work which could be defined as ‘projects’. Except that in a typical marketing department, they aren’t classified as projects. They are pieces of work which need to be done as part of the marketing manager’s job description – it’s just the day job.

That’s fine, but perhaps this leads to a less rigorous approach to the piece of work than would be the case if it was managed as a formal project.

One view that is commonly held by marketers is that ‘a project management approach will stifle my creativity and spontaneity’. That may or may not be true, depending on your definition of project management. A ‘project’ is a piece of work with a discrete start and a discrete end and this can obviously vary in size. At one end of the scale, a project might be ‘build a new Football Stadium’. At the other end a small project might consist of a departmental reorganisation. Both have beginnings and ends, so are both projects but the approach to each will be markedly different. There is much that marketers can learn from the world of project management, without stifling their creative juices.

  • Write a Project Plan – this doesn’t need to be overcomplicated, an excel spreadsheet is fine with tasks and responsibilities down the side and a timeline along the top. This gives a view of the tasks which need to be done, who is responsible for doing them and by when.
    • TOP TIP 1: Share the plan with everyone who is involved with the project tasks. Sounds obvious, but doesn’t always happen.
    • TOP TIP 2: Keep the plan up to date. When something changes, update the plan and re-circulate it. You don’t need to become a slave to the plan, just spend a few minutes every week reviewing it to keep it current
  • Understand the Risks involved in running the project. What changes will it involve? Who will be affected? How likely is it that the identified risks will actually occur? How serious is each risk? Have a proactive plan to deal with each risk (even if the plan says ‘we see x as a risk but will take the chance that it doesn’t happen’. This is an acceptable risk response, providing everyone involved understands that this is the decision that has been made).
  • Monitor the budget. Keep on top of cost, particularly costs incurred by third parties.
  • When the project reaches its end, have a ‘wrap up’ review. What went well, what lessons were learned?
    • TOP TIP 1: Document these learnings and save them in a central repository which is accessible to anyone who may run a similar project in the future.

None of this is rocket science but much of it is ignored by marketing execs who are keen ‘to get things moving’. Time spent thinking about the piece of work up front, planning and anticipating the potential issues, will free up time later on – guaranteed!


Thought of the day:

Young Chuck moved to Texas and bought a donkey from a farmer for $100.00. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day. The next day he drove up and said, Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died.’
Chuck replied,
‘Well, then just give me my money back.’
The farmer said,
‘Can’t do that. I went and spent it already.’
Chuck said,
‘Ok, then, just bring me the dead donkey.’
The farmer asked,
‘What ya gonna do with him?’
Chuck said,
‘I’m going to raffle him off.’
The farmer said,
‘You can’t raffle off a dead donkey!’
Chuck said,
‘Sure I can Watch me. I just won’t tell anybody he’s dead.’
A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked,
‘What happened with that dead donkey?’
Chuck said,
‘I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made a profit of $998.00.’
The farmer said,
‘Didn’t anyone complain?’
Chuck said,
‘Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.’



Rob Horlock specialises in helping the commercial side of businesses to review and map processes and manage projects. If you would like to find out more about documenting processes or project management, see http://www.ef-ef.co.uk or email: info@ef-ef.co.uk

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