Universal Project Planner

Answering these basic questions before you start your project is the most important step in the process. Think of it as having good drawings for a house you are going to build. A clear vision of what you want your project to be and achieve is essential to its success.

Universal Project Planning Questions

Schedule: What is your deadline? 
Talk to everyone involved in the project to ensure they can fulfill their role or complete their contribution in the allotted time. You may need to reconsider the scope of the project to fit the schedule or the length of the schedule to fit the project.

Audience: Who are you most trying to persuade? 
Identify your primary audience. A project can’t be all things to all people. Messages can be developed to reach a variety of constituents, but the most successful communications are targeted to a specific demographic. Choose your single most important audience, or prioritize your audiences, and shape the message accordingly.

Message: What is the primary idea or fact you want your user to take away?
Choose a limited number of messages to communicate. Focused communications are far more powerful than those that try to throw tons of information at the user.

Objective: What do you want your user to do? 
The purpose of most communications is to persuade the user to do something specific or feel a particular way. Even in higher education, we are trying to “sell” something—a program, research, or an idea. Define your objective, then decide what in your piece will motivate the audience toward the desired result.

Methods: What format is right for your project?
It makes sense to explore multiple communication tools and methods to find the best way to deliver your message. For example, if you are planning a brochure, you might also consider making more information available on the web or point your users to resources that already exist.

Distribution: How will you get your communication to the audience?
If you are producing a printed publication, CD, or video, think about whether it will it be mailed or handed out. Have you considered packaging and shipping costs? If a website, how will people know it’s there?

Strategy: How does this project fit into your overall marketing strategy?
The most successful communications are part of an overall plan or campaign. Take a long-term view. Reinforcing your message and stating it consistently in various ways increases the chances of it getting heard.

Budget: How much time and money do you have to invest?
Budget considerations include the cost of all resources being used. Money available is usually what makes or breaks a project, but think also about the expenditure of other resources like time and energy.

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