Let’s face it. We have all had a project or three that, once turned over to the requester for approval, falls into the Project Black Hole. You know that project: the one the requester hands to you and says it is a quick turn. So you bust the time barrier to get the project done and back to the requester while all of your other projects sit on hold — only to have it sit in the void between Submission and Schedule to Run.
So how do you handle this Bermuda Triangle of campaign deployment?
First, I make sure that all project requests, quick turns and repeatable projects alike, come through the correct channels. This will ensure that we get paid for the time put in, regardless of the void. The project is on the books and it won’t fall through the cracks on my side.
Next, I watch for the signs. After a couple of these, you learn to recognize the signs quickly. It may be a certain representative or a certain sponsor that typically has these issues. It could be a combination of things. For example, if I have a new project that lands in the void and is never resolved, and then I get a similar project the next month or a couple of months later, it is a good bet that the second project will land in the void right alongside the first project.
So what are the signs?
1) Repeat of, or very similar project to, a previous “lost in the void” project
2) Common issues with sponsors, partners, representatives or even a type of project
3) After a few days have passed, it is like the cone of silence has dropped over the project
4) The original “Schedule By” date has arrived, but the project has not
Once I send the project over and I start seeing the signs that the project has landed in that void between Submission and Schedule, I will start sending reminders to the requester that the deployment date is coming up fast. Now I am not talking hourly reminders! I start with a gentle reminder, once a day or once every other day, asking for a status update. About a day or two before the scheduled date, I start sending more urgent reminders: “If you want this to run on [such and such day], I need it approved no later than [date & time] to get it on the schedule.” Typically this approach will get that project back to me for scheduling.
By the time the original date to schedule to run has arrived, and I still don’t have the project back yet, I am starting to suspect this might be one of those lost-in-the-void projects. This situation is disappointing and annoying — but there is still hope that it is not a lost project, but instead more of a “delayed” project. After all, we have all experienced those last-minute date changes. At this point, I will send one last email to remind the requester that the Send did not happen and that we now need a new Send date and time for the project. If I don’t hear back, then I KNOW this is a lost-in-the-void project.
But even when a project has hit the void, I do not let it drop off of my radar completely: after all, it’s just lingering in the void and hasn’t been sucked down the black hole yet. For the first week after the missed schedule date, I will contact the requester one or two times for a status update. In the second week, I let the requester know I am putting the project on hold on my side, taking it off of my radar, and that they can resubmit it when they are ready.
Once a project hits a hold status, it has officially gone into the Black Hole.
Projects rarely come back from the Black Hole, as it is typically a one way trip. I usually give Black Hole projects a month on hold, and after that month I close it, letting the requester know that it will have to be resubmitted as a new project.
If you, the reader, have ever been the source of a Black Hole project. . . next time, please take the initiative and cancel the project. Those of us who build your projects invest a lot of ourselves, our time, and our commitment into your work. When a project just lingers in the void, it is a nagging distraction that drains energy from everything around it.
In your organization, how do you handle your Black Hole projects?
Lori Mann is an expert in web and email design and deployment. As a DemandGen Campaign Specialist II, she uses her advanced knowledge of HTML, XHTML, CSS, PHP, and MySql to build and deploy emails, landing pages, forms/smartforms, and microsites in requesters’ Eloqua and Marketo systems. Lori also helps requesters make the most of their marketing programs through sophisticated email template development, script authoring for automated form input, and rigorous quality assurance testing.