Using Cookie-Cutter Approach to Jump-Start Innovation
How templates and technology lead to productivity
Using a basic, cookie-cutter approach to anything may sound like a recipe for dull and repetitive results. Not true! In fact, we have found that incorporating the use of well-constructed templates and targeted technology to standardize our project-planning process actually leads to creative and unique solutions time after time.
Inefficiency can be a tremendous drain on resources and productivity. Conversely, nothing is more conducive to an efficient process than a solid template, app or software platform that we can rely on out of the gate to facilitate our progress when starting a new project from scratch.
Defining Our Need
The first step we usually take in beginning a new project, whether that may be planning an industry event or creating new written materials, is to define our goals and objectives. This fundamental step is critical to ensure that we know exactly what end result we are trying to achieve. That will help us identify the work we need to do and how to accomplish it.
With the end goals in mind, we typically work backwards to ease our way into finding the best solution to support our needs throughout the process. For example, when we plan a conference or board meeting, we employ an online project management system that informs the various stakeholders, provides access to important files and keeps us all on track.
In scoping out the project, we use this checklist to make sure we understand the resources and other needs required to complete the project successfully:
Define roles and responsibilities: We conduct a resource audit of our team and assign responsibilities, as well as implementing a tracking system to keep everyone involved accountable for their progress.
Create financial goals: We set revenue and expense expectations, sources and tracking to understand our financial position at any given point in the project.
Identify key stakeholders: We keep a running list of the internal and external personnel, clients and departments affected by the outcome of the project.
Establish Key Performance Indicators: We implement metrics to help us identify what success looks like and how to measure it.
Recognize Pain Points: We anticipate roadblocks and inhibitors, so we can visualize any obstacles that may pop up to hinder our progress and proactively brainstorm ways to combat them.
Determine What’s Working – We monitor our progress along the way, maintaining the aspects that are serving the organization well but tweaking the process where necessary.
Our Needs Checklist ensures that our team begins each project with a calibrated compass, allowing us to stay unified along a targeted path toward reaching our goals. That translates into an effective and efficient organization, no matter what the project is.
Thinking ahead to plan out the right mix of technology, financials, people and processes helps us create an efficient roadmap for achieving our goals. If a client approaches us with all of the necessary pieces already in place, we recommend performing an assessment to determine whether modifications need to be made for each project.
Take inventory of the systems, software, apps and platforms you currently use. Try to answer the following questions:
Do the different programs need to be integrated through an API?
Is there an opportunity to eliminate duplicitous programs or add software to replace manual processes?
What are the associated costs?
Which stakeholders need to be proficient in this technology and who will conduct the training?
Should we outsource instead?
Is it more beneficial to implement monthly or pay-as-you-go, or is it something that can benefit the entire enterprise?
Is there an off-the-shelf solution or do you need to create a customized program?
Understand the financial implications of managing client work or internal projects. To do this, consider both the tangible revenue vs. cost and time expended. Time is elusive and can be extremely costly if wasted. Identifying where cost centers are and how to track them prior to beginning is a critical step in streamlining financial health.
Leverage your talent and streamline your processes. Doing this contributes to high morale and productivity. Your human capital is your most valuable asset, so listen, observe and invest properly. In our estimation, people make the project. Their time, intellect, enthusiasm and creativity contribute to the success of any project and the profitability of an organization.
Identify where it makes the most sense to create repeatable processes using templates, systems and methods. Some creative functions are challenging to institutionalize, but there are proven ways to document workflow to capture major steps. Continuity and institutional memory are paramount in creating efficient organizations.
After using our checklist and reviewing your needs, your plan is ready for execution. You may notice when you begin that some aspects of your plan need to be modified or adjusted. That is to be expected. In fact, we recommend reevaluating your processes and procedures regularly and updating them as needs, resources, technology or other aspects of your project evolve.
Many influences impact workflow efficiency. That is why it is imperative to stay aware of the particulars of the process, all while maintaining focus on your goals.
Feel overwhelmed by all of this? Reach out to us for a consultation.