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Jump-Start a Stalled Project

You’ve done it! Your content marketing project is off the ground. You have internal buy-in and budget, the stakeholders are lined up, and the team is prepped. You can breathe a sigh of relief.

The weeks go by, and your project is humming along. The team reports no major issues, and you gleefully check off steps in the schedule.

Then a stakeholder goes MIA, your team’s marketing priorities shift or editing by committee slows the project to a crawl.

Does this sound familiar? A stalled project can happen to the best of us – and for any number of reasons. Here are a few strategies to get your content plans back on the road to success.

Drill Down on What Went Wrong

Get to the bottom of the problem:

  • Identify where and when the breakdown occurred. Issues could range from a reviewer missing a deadline (hopefully an easy fix) to unexpected staff turnover, as in half your web team leaving (not so easy).
  • Loop in your supervisor and other team members to brainstorm solutions.
  • If you all agree that a project cannot be saved, write up a business case for abandoning it.

Re-engage Your Stakeholders (or Find New Ones)

Often the holdup is busy stakeholders who delay work on content discovery or review. If they are not engaged and able to commit to deadlines, search elsewhere within your organization. Explain that the project is time-sensitive, and their input is essential to the project’s success.

Adjust Your Timeline and Budget

Your timeline will certainly need to shift, but perhaps not more than a few weeks.

  • Consider breaking the project into more manageable batches or sprints so you can keep the most time-sensitive pieces moving.
  • Stagger the schedule so deliverables fall about a week apart. You might need to adjust your budget if more time or training is required.
  • Set a firm budget and track expenses.

Kick Off the Project (Again!)

With an engaged team and a plan of attack, it’s time to “re-kick-off” the project:

  • Restate the goals and discuss what delayed the project.
  • Agree on a robust communication plan and clearly state the deadlines.
  • Ask team members to tell you right away about any delays.

Supervise Closely Until the End

Whether it’s a daily team meeting or separate check-ins, follow-up is key.

  • Share daily status updates via email so you can track progress.
  • Send reminders as project milestones approach.

Share the Knowledge

Pass along any lessons you’ve learned to your team. The same challenges that affected your project could pop up again, but next time your team will be better prepared.

While a stalled project is frustrating, think of it as an opportunity for creative problem solving. Many content projects directly support your organization’s consumer education, sales and retention goals, and they are worth saving. When the project wraps, you’ll feel a sense of professional accomplishment – and you’ll have a good story to tell.

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About Anna Jolly Duval

Anna Jolly Duval

Anna Jolly Duval has more than 10 years of content strategy and marketing experience. Most recently, she worked as a senior editor on a variety of digital and print projects in the health care, insurance and financial industries. She enjoys all phases of the creative process, especially maintaining quality and keeping everything on track. A... More >