A successful print project is no accident. It starts with a well thought out plan and ends with a well-executed product. No matter what kind of project you have going on, you must have a thorough and detailed plan in place in order for it to go smoothly. Print projects are no exception to this rule.
Begin with the end in mind
Before you get started with the project planning and execution, be sure to have the end result in mind. That’s right, the end should be your beginning. Start your project by working backwards from the end product you plan to achieve. This allows you to set yourself up with a clean and outlined goal to reach. You should also begin the process by answering the following questions:
When do you want the recipient to receive the printed piece? ___-___-___
Who is the target audience?
What actions do you want the recipient to take?
What is your budget?
How much will you spend on shipping?
How will the project be distributed?
Are any special packing methods required?
What shipping method will be used?
How many foreign addresses and how many different countries are on the distribution list?
Will proofs be required?
Who will sign off on the final product and when? ___-___-___
Identify your team members
Identify who the team members are and have a kickoff meeting. At this meeting, include your project stakeholders, your print service provider and designers, so they can provide valuable feedback, early on in the process. This will also ensure that your project is completed in a timely fashion, as efficiently as possible. Some questions that the team will want to cover in your kickoff meeting are:
What are your goals for the project?
How will you determine success?
What is the timeline?
What is your intended message?
What is the call to action?
How will you manage the project?
A print project is like any other project. Roles need to be assigned to those involved, specifically the project manager position. At this point, the project manager should make a decision on what project management platform will be used and that all team members will have access to. While some people use trustworthy GANTT charts for timelines and deliverables, there are also many free options for cloud based project management, like Trello. The project manager will want to detail:
Which team members are responsible for actions and deliverables
How team members will communicate effectively
Processes for updating timelines and milestones
Maintain ongoing communication among team members
Frequent and timely communication is a prerequisite to the success of any project. In a print project, this is especially true with communication between the designer and print service provider. Too often, the print service provider is chosen near the end of the timeline and valuable feedback concerning the print process and success factors are not incorporated into the design. The designer and print service provider will be able to communicate with each other about important decisions such as:
What format best fits the content?
Which paper choices will enhance the design and effectiveness?
What binding technique best fits the design and paper choice?
Will print specialties enhance or detract from the project?
Are there any constraints to timely completion of the project?
Will there be any follow up required once the project is sent out?
It’s all in the planning
Some people like planning, some people hate it. But, taking the time to come up with a comprehensive plan in the beginning on any project pays off in spades. Start with the end in mind and work back with an effective timeline with activities that include all stakeholders. And don’t forget to communicate, communicate, communicate.