Any account manager has been there,–working on a project with the deadline looming in the near future and suddenly you hit a bump in the road that puts the project on halt. Whether it is a white paper, press release, blog post, or any other type of deliverable, there are a few things you can do to help ensure that you overcome the hurdle and still hit due dates.
- Have a process. Having a set process can not only help you fix project issues, but avoid them altogether. By mapping out your due date and the steps you need to take to get the project done in time, you can ensure that the project keeps moving along, and give yourself enough time to work out any kinks. Processes also help when you’re managing multiple clients. Even if they are in different verticals, you will still have to complete some of the same to-do’s to get to the final version, and repetition leads to perfection.
- Use a different strategy. If you’ve already tried sticking to the process but you’re still running into issues, try to look at different ways you can overcome the obstacle. Lay all your options on the table and evaluate which strategy would be the best to try for the best results. A new strategy needs to be carefully evaluated, executed, and monitored to ensure that you don’t create further problems with the project. If the new strategy winds up being a success, make sure you report on it so you can use that method in the future.
- Pool brainpower for ideas. Sometimes the best ideas can come from other people. Be willing to admit defeat and show the problem to other coworkers, even if they’re not fully involved with the project. Sometimes a third party is the best person to ask because they have a bigger view of the entire situation and can potentially spot the real issue, as well as the solution, easier than you may be able to identify it.
- Take a break. This sounds like the complete opposite of what you should do when you have an issue. Most people have a misconception that you should sit with the issue and not leave your desk until you’ve figured it out. However, studies have shown this approach can actually hamper your ability to see the issue and the successful path around it. By taking a quick break you’re giving your mind a rest from the project so you can have better success at solving the issue when you return.
- Talk to the client. It may sound unprofessional to talk to the client about an issue because you’re the expert, however, most clients appreciate being in the loop when their hard earned money is concerned. By informing the client of the progress of the project and any issue you encounter (that you can’t fix on your own), you are keeping an trustworthy and open line of communication. In the end, this could be the difference between a happy client and a client who quits. This could also be a good time to talk candidly to the client about the project.
If you talk to the client, brainstorm together and see if you can find a way to fix the issue. It’s good to keep the client in the know of any changes you want to make to the original proposition. Maybe the issue has no solution and it’s time to take a slightly different route with the project. It’s okay if you can’t always do something exactly to specifications. Sometimes a modified project turns out better than the original would have!
In the end, there are hundreds of ways to solve projects and I suggested only a few potential problem solvers. Everyone will have their own way of doing so, so feel free to experiment and see what helps your brainpower and ability to overcome obstacles. What is my personal problem solving strategy? I take a nap and Google cat pictures. It totally works.