You’re part-way through an important brand project. Then things start to flag. People get very busy - or side-tracked with other priorities. The organisation loses focus on the brand project, and before you know it, the project stalls. This is more common than you think, and it’s extremely frustrating for everyone involved. It’s also very difficult to re-ignite the project and achieve the same level of success you were initially hoping for.
The reasons a brand project can lose momentum and stall are numerous, and include:
- The top senior stakeholders did not truly buy into or understand the project objective and necessity.
- Initial budgeted costs or timelines were not realistic, and there is a mid-project wake-up call.
- The project team just gets too busy and simply can’t complete the work – or resources were under-allocated to begin with.
- There is a major, unexpected change in the business, for example, a merger or acquisition, a strategy change, new management or some kind of crisis.
So what can be done to build and maintain momentum for your brand project and give it the best chance of successful, on-time and on-budget completion?
Create a compelling business case
Developing a strong business case which results in senior management buy-in, approval and total commitment is the first step in establishing project momentum.
Accurately budget the time and resources required
Spend the time to ensure accurate costs (including a contingency!), and a realistic project plan, are included in your business case. Provide not enough time per task, and team members can feel overwhelmed and deflated, which can be a big drain on project momentum. Equally, if you allocate too much time, momentum can flag as time passes with little progress.
Conduct a risk analysis
Be prepared - before the project commences, identify the things that could halt, or slow down, the project and develop plans to address each of these.
Appoint a cascading network of project champions
It goes without saying that project leadership needs to start at the top. A brand project needs a committed, senior, sponsor who is visible throughout the project, reinforcing its importance.
In addition, you’ll need a day-to-day project lead and a project implementation team. Choose the best people for the job to ensure success – take into account current workloads/capacity as well as personal energy levels - free up other responsibilities if needed. Ensure representation on the project team from different areas/divisions within the business.
Excitement and momentum can also be maintained via a network of project champions or “evangelists”. Carefully select employees within different areas of the business and at different levels, bring them together to educate and train them on what you require, and ask them to go out and “infect” the organisation. These people should have enthusiasm, high energy, credibility and visibility. It’s their job to ensure all the parts of the business are on board and supportive, or identify any resistance, understand it and address it or ask for help from management.
Hold a project launch
Consider holding an official project launch to the business to create some noise and excitement. Explain the objective of the brand project, what it will achieve, how long it’s going to take and what it will require from employees. Explain what will happen if you don’t do it. Paint a picture of the future for them. Make it fun! Encourage involvement.
Foster open communication and regular reporting
Create an environment of open communication, and encourage this from the project lead, project implementation team and all the champions. Get people talking about the project and welcome any new ideas and suggestions for improvements to how the project is running. This will ensure that you hear about factors that may potentially delay or stall the project in plenty of time to do something about them.
In addition, set up a framework of regular meetings and reporting on the project progress and status, so there is a more formal project management mechanism.
Celebrate key milestones
Don’t forget to celebrate the project successes and key milestones along the way! Executing a major project can be stressful and require additional work over and above normal daily tasks for many project stakeholders. Let employees know that this extra effort and commitment is appreciated.
Be flexible – within parameters
We are all operating in a rapidly changing world. With large projects, there is a need to be flexible. Making reasonable, logical, practical revisions to the project approach on the fly can have a noticeable impact on the overall team’s morale and the project momentum.
However, sometimes, even the best laid plans can run off the tracks. If your brand project does stall:
- Get together and discuss why it stalled.
- Don’t lay blame.
- Don’t be afraid to re-create the entire timeline. It can sometimes be better to start again than to try to modify the original plan.
- Schedule an off-site meeting and re-start the project afresh – include your brand agency in this – they will be able to add creative ideas to re-energise the team.
If you need any assistance with executing your brand project, the team at BrandMatters would be delighted to help. Contact us to discuss!