Project management: best practices for smooth sailing

Our favorite part of Collabosphere every year is getting to spend quality time with our customers, and we feel particularly lucky when customers rock the stage. This year, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Leah McKenney gave a great presentation on the impact iMeet Central is making on the organization’s project management initiatives.

Personally, I was kind of hoping that she would do an Oprah sort of thing and I’d get to reach under my seat and win a free cruise to New Zealand, but… maybe next year?

McKenney’s marketing services team works on everything from direct mail and video production to onboard collateral for cruise-takers. “You name it, we do it,” she said. “We’re projected to complete 2,500 projects this year. With a team of 20 supporting an organization of over 1,500, we really needed project management software that could help us streamline our process.”

The team had previously been running a simple database system without any automation. As the team’s requests and responsibilities escalated—and as project management solutions became more powerful—they began researching alternatives, taking about seven months to go from the research phase to the implementation phase (they chose iMeet Central, FYI).

The team sought a solution that fulfilled all of the following:

  • Web-based solution
  • Email notifications
  • Live editing; say goodbye to job jackets!
  • Customized user dashboards
  • Time-tracking and scheduling
  • Large file storage
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Friendly user interface

“It was an easy decision,” McKenney said.

Caitlin Giss, director of client services for iMeet Central, provided some best practices for teams looking to overhaul the way they manage projects.

  1. Understand your end users and their processes. Surveying stakeholders is always a good idea, but even better? Actually sit down and have them walk you through the way they work. “We knew how we wanted to set the system up before we even got into the discussions [with iMeet Central],” added McKenney.
  2. End users often will not have the same immediate needs and goals as managers and executives. Make sure you’re hearing from—and building for—both sides.
  3. Define your desired (but realistic) process.
  4. Map out your process. Be able to clearly define the purpose and intention behind every task.
  5. Build to the 80% rule.

One early breakthrough for the Norwegian Cruise Line marketing team was the decision to no longer use the same brief for all project types. “Not every project requires the same type of questions and information,” McKenney said. After a brainstorm from the implementation task force, they created six unique project types, with unique briefs tied to each. Now, account managers only have to deal with the questions that are actually relevant to their project types. Each template comes with its own fields, task lists, members and assignments.

Watch the full video below—and please reach out with any questions about your own project management challenges.

Adam McKibbin
Post by Adam McKibbin

Adam McKibbin is the content marketing manager for iMeet Central. His writing has been featured in Adweek, the Chicago Tribune and The Nation, and he’s produced content for some of the leading tech brands on the Fortune 500.

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