It’s natural to feel uncomfortable with ambiguous or changing situations. Even when using well formulated plans and templates, ambiguity and change will occur in all projects. When faced with a complex or changing situation, take a step back and break the goals into manageable workstreams and then analyze the impacts of new or unclear information. Establish clear lines of communication with everyone on the team to raise risks and scope changes as more details are uncovered. 

Follow these steps at the beginning of project and throughout the project lifecycle:

  • Understand the client’s definition of success. First and foremost, have an understanding about why the project is desired, and what outcomes will define its success. 
  • Clearly define what is within scope…. and what is not. Developing a thorough project plan upfront will clarify to the project team and client what is expected to be delivered. Even within a fixed fee project, we often uncover areas where additional support is needed, campaign builds are more complex than basic, etc. Agreeing on a clearly defined project plan will reduce surprises as things change along the way.
  • Realize when to be flexible, and when not to be. The first pass at the project schedule is a guideline. There are some tasks that need to be completed in a specific order, but not everything has dependencies. A standard set of planning and collaboration tools are available to support Relationship One projects, but there can be flexibility to accommodate business requirements and communication styles. 
  • Analyze possible outcomes. When faced with changing requirements, collaborate with the project team to consider options to meet the new goals with pros and cons, and the cost and timeline implications of each.  
  • Document new requirements and outline options, so client stakeholders can make informed decisions. Then prioritize the new requirements with the project team and client to determine the must haves and the nice-to-haves. If needed, break the project into multiple phases to accommodate things required for launch, and subsequent deliverables for post launch. Update the project plan once decisions have been made and new scope is added through a change order.
  • Repeat! Understand that projects are fluid, and that additional changes may be required through the life of the project.

Embrace the ambiguity! Yes, everyone wants to know the roadmap upfront and wants to claim that everything could be predicted and followed as originally mapped out. But deviating from the playbook due to changing circumstances provides an opportunity to grow and learn, and to use those learnings to innovate within future projects.

We’re here to help you navigate your next marketing automation project. Contact us to learn more.