However, I came away with some insights about the study of project
management and how it relates to my journalism and communications background that may be helpful to my blog readers.
First, I saw the connections between news and project management,
between the “rundown” used in broadcast news and the “budget” generally found in print newsrooms and that of the project charter. In project management, the project charter is the official document that says someone (known as a sponsor) is paying for work to be completed by a certain deadline. Each project needs a project charter, a project manager as well as a team to do the work, of course.
In news, the rundown or the budget documents the stories being
planned for that day’s newspaper or newscast. In other words, the budget and the rundown are the official documents showing the lineup for each day's news product.
Second, a work breakdown structure, which is used to plan the project's activities, is similar to a storyboard in broadcast. The WBS is a graphical representation of the project broken down into work packages based on the information available. The storyboard allows you to visualize the show, the movie or even the commercial as it’s supposed to appear.
Fourth, then the project is formally closed with all lessons learned
documented and archived to aid future projects. In news, photos, scripts, past stories, court records, lawsuits, obituaries, interviews, reporters’ notes and sometimes audio/video outtakes are saved for future news packages or investigative purposes. Depending on your journalism landscape, they are saved in the morgue, the library or the database (SharePoint site), etc.
Sixth, stakeholders are everywhere and they can make or break a project. I was especially fascinated by the stakeholder power/interest matrix that should be completed early in the project planning process. Why? Because successful project management involves identifying all the stakeholders, their interests as well as their preferred communications methods.
Those communications’ preferences are expected to be documented in a communications plan, according to project management protocol. In the news business, stakeholders are online, in front of the TV screen, in the newsroom editing audio or in a nearby editing bay feverishly cutting video for a live shot five minutes away, in the sales department, in Creative Services, in the car listening to radio simulcasts, or using a digital recorder to report from a three-alarm fire at 2 in the morning. The news director and the editor have to respond to their stakeholders promptly and professionally if they want their news product to be successful.
In project management, the monitor and control process, under the project manager's reign, focuses on keeping the project on budget, within scope and that risks are monitored and controlled, among other knowledge areas.
Finally, like journalism, project management requires the ability to make decisions fast, change direction quickly or even close (cancel) a failing project. Similarly, their overall shared goal is achieving customer (stakeholder) satisfaction.
P.S. I actually enjoyed the computer-based *testing process (sounds odd, I know) because once I settled in, the exam provided a lot of information about learning styles and the value of lifelong education. Hmmm, maybe there’s a way to marry project management and journalism/communications/social media/PR?