“The Wheels on the Bus go…

… round and round, round and round, round and round.”

My apologies. Now you’re going to have that song stuck in your head all day.

Like the wheels on the bus, some projects seem to go on forever… and ever… and ever. What can you, as the Traffic Manager, do to help move things along? It depends where in the Critical Path that the job has stalled.

Obviously, some tasks are outside of your control (and even that of the account team). The client, for example, has to approve the estimate. An account executive can only make so many phone calls and send “x” number of e-mails before becoming a pest.

If the estimate has been approved and work can commence, outline the steps involved via a workback schedule. Make sure the copywriter has what he needs (e.g. copy mandatories, web site references, an understanding of the tone, etc.). Can the art director begin searching for stock photos or pull the ad from last year as a point of reference? Can missing tidbits of information (e.g. phone number, new address, etc.) be culled from the client’s web site or another source? Perhaps there’s a secondary contact in the client’s office that could help.

When dealing with slow-to-quote vendors, think of alternatives. Go on line and research other providers. Can padded mailers be purchased now or labels pre-printed? If you think deadlines will be missed, revise the Workback Schedule and let everyone know. Think about what you can do, now, to speed things up once printed materials are actually in-house.

If incoming layout revisions are minimal, consider shifting the art director’s workload around. Can he make the change now rather than wait until tomorrow morning? If the account supervisor can approve the ad, in the absence of the account executive, seek her out and let the account executive know you’ve talked.

As Traffic Manager, it’s your job to ensure projects are completed accurately and on schedule; ideally, in advance thereof. Always think ahead of the workflow. What can you do now to ensure work continues moving forward and doesn’t just go round and round, round and round, round and round.

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