There was a time, not so long ago, when time management was all the rage. There were time management courses you could take. There were time management people called secretaries and personal assistants that would help keep you on track and there was a plethora of software that you could plug into your computer, or print out and keep on your desk that would show you the big picture of your workflow. What you had to have done and when. Who you had to call and why. Etc. Etc.
This stuff was all very important back then, because not managing your time well meant that publication deadlines could be missed, people would be unprepared for sales conferences and trade shows, and clients flying in from out of town to review work would have nothing to look at.
Here Comes The Internet
Slowly but surely, the advent of the Internet and the dramatic growth of electronic publications and web based communications, web sites, social media and all the rest have all taken the hard edge off of deadlines. As a consequence, the world seems to have become much more lax in terms of meeting them.
I personally find this to be a kind of slippery slope, which can and has already lead to the development of poor practices when it comes to things like arranging meetings, determining creative development time, progress checkpoints to review work and being able to actually nail down completion dates for projects.
What Does This All Mean?
Actually it means a lot of things, but mainly:
- it means that if you do business in this way, clients who are even slightly disciplined can start to see you as sloppy or lazy.
- it means that when there is a critical deadline, the potential to disappoint your clients is very high, and the downside there could be something as drastic as losing the business.
- it also means that your cash flow and billing procedures can be disrupted or slowed down and that can affect your overall operating capability.
Can This Be Fixed?
There are a number of things that can be done within a creative organization to help tighten what has become a very loose screw.
- Let everybody know that this is an important issue that can affect the bottom line of the company.
- Develop or adapt a time management process that works for the kind of projects you generally do. There are many good programs now available.
- Make sure everyone involved in the project, including the client, is aware of all deadlines.
- Appoint an enforcer who will make sure that everyone is aware of and meeting their deadlines.
Now this seems very simple when you write it out in point form. In reality, it’s much more difficult than it looks, because you have factors such as work loads, supplier and client availabilities and technical issues (especially in the web area) that need to be considered.
You Have To Start Somewhere.
Like most processes that will alter the way things get done in your company, more stringent time management measures may be difficult to implement at first. Change is always difficult. But when these measures start to have a positive effect on the way work gets done and the people doing the work, you will find that this difficulty will diminish.
The key here, as always, is commitment. Do you want to be a company that is always scrambling to get projects completed, and as a result has less time to devote to acquiring new business or expanding your market? Or do you want to be a company that is always on top of things and operates with real efficiency and confidence?
That’s kind of a no brainer. But those are the choices you have, and good time management can really make the difference.
We Have Now Fully Adapted & Committed To Excellent Time Management
At Rapport, after a few trial and errors, we chose two on-line systems – ‘BaseCamp’ and ‘Pipeline Deals’. Together they address all of our needs on both the sales funnel and the project management sides of the business. These particular programs have proven easy for everyone to adapt to and manage. After the initial start up and learning curve, they both helping us be more efficient and effective.
Another important benefit to this renewed commitment to these systems is that our management has better control over production and each individual has the ability to see and monitor their work load well in advance, especially on long term projects.
In short, it’s a complete win-win. We manage our business effectively on all levels and our clients get great work on time and on budget.