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There is a solution to almost any operational challenge; the key is to identify these obstacles before your activation or event goes live and have a structured plan in place to mitigate the risk…hope for the best but plan for the worst is what I always say, and it has served me well!
The most vital steps in identifying chinks in the chain are to ensure that the planning is organised, detailed and that it starts at the beginning:

  • Structured planning according to the map of the activation:
    • Systematically follow the path which the consumer will journey from beginning to end.
  • Detail every touch point:
    • Ensure that each touch point within this journey is identified.
    • Clearly think through each element and detail all processes or requirements to the n’th degree.
    • Keep it clear & concise.
    • Define appropriate methods for delivering on requirements.
  • Effective problem solving:
    • Identify the problem.
    • Propose possible solutions.
    • Conduct an acid test.
    • Decide on the best course of action.
    • Implement the solution with confidence.
  • Activation blueprint:
    • Whether you call it a master operations plan, function sheet or production schedule the one thing they all have in common is that these documents define the scope of the activation and give instructions on when, who, how & why each touch point should be rolled out, leaving no room for interpretation or error.
    • Ensure that your document is well laid out, clear & easy to understand.
    • Take care with the presentation, formatting & spelling – if it looks like a dog’s breakfast, human nature dictates that the same level of attention has been put into the detail.
    • Ambiguity should not be a word in a project manager’s vocabulary!
  • Respect:
    • Give planning the proper respect that it deserves and don’t try to shortcut the process in the beginning.
    • Like every skill, the power of structured thinking is one that must be tried, tested, developed and refined over a period of time.
    • The more you do it the easier it becomes – practice, practice, practice! With experience comes the wisdom to immediately identify pitfalls and areas of risk.

Many a young Project Manager has come undone by trying to shortcut this crucial process – planning takes time and is not for the faint hearted…you gotta man up, put on your big girl panties and take the time to think clearly and structure your documentation accordingly.

Remember that without proper planning it is almost impossible to identify challenges and successfully mitigate risks…it is always easier to change plans upfront then to deal with unexpected crises on the day with the client spotlight firmly on you!

By Natalie Fourie

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On February 17, 2015

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