We Have a Product! Now What?

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Your project team has come together to make something great. You’re almost done, but now you have to show it off.

The last roll out step in project management depends on effective messaging. That messaging must remain cohesive across many different channels, both externally and internally. Project managers and their teams use various approaches to messaging unity, but achieving it is the main thing. It is the final, most public step of effective project management.

Remember Project Management 101

This is how most projects operate:

  1. Company leaders discover a need.
  2. Project managers organize a team to address the need.
  3. The team develops a product, service, or system to meet the need.
  4. The team decides how to deliver the solution.
  5. Someone on the project team explains how it works.

That last step is where many projects falter.

The Critical Last Step of Project Management

Explaining your team’s solution effectively can often mean the difference between project success and failure. Consumers who don’t understand a product’s operation or a service’s benefits will not purchase it, use it, or recommend it. Internal systems that aren’t explained well encounter employee confusion, mistrust, and inefficiency.

You must develop effective means to explain your project team’s solution. This requires an integrated, multifaceted approach.

One Knowledge Base. Many Channels.

Major companies, startups, and a handful of innovative, mid-size companies are embracing a fresh approach to knowledge management. Basically, how products and systems work doesn’t change, whether you’re a project manager, engineer, CEO, or consumer. What changes is how that knowledge is explained to others.

Project managers are centralizing their teams’ collective knowledge into a single repository. From that single source of truth, team specialists or contractors express details into any number of relevant channels:

Marketing

  • Website messaging
  • Ads
  • Social media

Documentation

  • User manuals
  • Online help
  • Packaging

Training

  • Elearning
  • How-to videos
  • Training manuals

Business Intelligence

  • Production cost
  • Service efficiency
  • Brand positioning

Each messaging channel is another puzzle piece in ultimate project success. Every channel should match the content contour from each other channel. The final result should be a complete picture of your project that is visible to every stakeholder and consumer. What are some ways to achieve this unified messaging?

Creating a Unified Message

We’ve learned a few project management tricks over the last couple decades. Here are some basic steps to developing a unified message.

1. Write with an Adaptive Voice.

You need to adapt your messaging voice to each audience.

For example, one of our clients is a corporate department in a large company. The team prefers an upbeat, conversational tone in all internal communications. Every effort is made to avoid public critique, sarcasm, and hot button issues. By contrast, a small business startup’s product packaging makes direct critique of competitor products. The tone is intentionally salesy and even cocky to match the brand.

Achieving this level of writing nuance can be difficult. It may even require special talent or outside help. However, we believe an adaptive voice is worth the investment.

2. Remove Barriers Between Creatives and SMEs.

Subject matter experts (SMEs) like engineers and department heads rarely create messaging themselves. As much as possible, simplify the dialog between these SMEs and the creatives responsible for rolling out the project. Provide technology that lets them connect deeply and share information. Set realistic project management deadlines that consider everyone’s busy schedules. Most of all, develop a unified culture of cooperation. This connection between design and function is part of what makes leading companies like Apple so successful.

3. Remember Where You’ve Been. Know Where You’re Going.

Today’s speedier product development cycle means that companies have more project managers and contracted team members than they used to. In the race to implement what’s new, it can become easy to ignore or forget past messaging. This breaks down a brand’s cohesiveness. Instead, maintain a rich, usable archive of past projects to help ensure your latest messaging makes sense amidst the rest of your messaging ecosystem.

That said, everyone wants to improve upon past project management efforts. Leaders should set a clear vision for what future messaging should look like. The more specific that vision is, the more project managers can plan for it by assembling the right team, removing barriers between creatives and SMEs, etc.

What’s Possible for Project Managers and Their Teams

Few professional experiences rival the excitement and relief of wrapping up a major project. Effective final messaging in marketing, documentation, training, and business intelligence is the vital finishing sprint in the project management marathon. It can mean the difference between a business win and coming in second.

If you’d like help problem solving your project’s messaging, tell us what’s going on. We’d be happy to help you find a solution.

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