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16 Tips to Write a Successful Content Plan for Your IT Project
Managing an IT project, whether it is complex software development, specific web infrastructure, or implementing IT security measures, presupposes multiple tasks and a wide range of responsibilities. It is more than just dealing with hardware and software, databases, and networks management.
But also constantly communicating with team members, anticipating, preventing, and mitigating risks, allocating resources for each task, managing changes, and adequately distributing tasks. These are some of the significant tasks that determine your IT project's eventual success, but the list is not exhaustive.
A well-thought content plan is among the crucial steps that ensure your team's efforts won't be wasted. A content plan is more than a combination of sophisticated words and visuals.
It is the embodiment of conducted research, careful planning, and a great deal of talent put into it. This is the process that eventually develops into a successful outcome, and you are the one who can make this happen.
Why is a content plan essential?
The absence of clear objectives and the IT project's scope will prevent achieving the result; thus, these components are the core of good content planning and should not be ignored. What else should a content manager of an IT project consider to make sure the team is working successfully?
- Documented workflow to avoid mess and chaos.
- Distribution of tasks.
- Communication tools' accessibility.
- Flexible content calendar.
- Training and promotion potential.
- Transparent communication with stakeholders.
- Metrics to track and measure progress.
- Ease of optimization.
The content plan will never be a short and straightforward document as its development implies covering the following time-consuming elements:
- IT project's phases: initiation, planning, execution, control, closing.
- General objectives.
- What exactly needs to be done during each phase, all tasks must be listed.
- Connections and interdependencies will help structure the plan better.
- Roles and responsibilities of involved team members.
- Critical deadlines.
- Appropriate milestones throughout the entire project's timeline.
- Criteria for measuring the success.
- Considering risk factors and assumptions.
This may look overwhelming given the constant development of techniques, strategies, and ideas in the modern globalized world. But at the same time, mastering these components in your content plan will ensure success for your entire career. Many more projects are waiting for intelligent, motivated, and meticulous people who can nail it.
Tips to implement and follow while writing
One must understand that there is no ultimate guide to write a content plan, especially for a project in such a diverse sphere as IT. Constant development, a high level of competitiveness, and a need for flexibility are the phenomena that will make one's life full of challenges and opportunities for development.
Still, some pieces of advice will be relevant in many cases.
1. Be patient
A successful content plan is not a thing that can be done overnight, it takes time to write it, and it takes even more time to make it close to perfect. You will be presenting the project plan to the client, and there is a possibility of additional feedback or the need to change a roadmap.
Unforeseen obstacles may appear during the plan's implementation, and even the global situation may change abruptly. A completed content plan is not a static thing, so you should be ready to refine it when needed, and it is not the task that you complete, submit, and forget.
2. Start from simple things
A long journey starts with the first small step, and for the IT project's content plan, these steps would be five words:
Answering these questions is obligatory for making the initial outline, and the finished content plan that has clear answers to these simple questions is more likely to be completed properly.
This way, you will know what exactly needs to be achieved. The clearly defined mission statement should let people understand what is your IT project's target audience, what type of content you are offering to them, and what audience's needs will be covered.
3. Define workflow framework
Resist the temptation to focus on all of the tasks that need to be done and start with the general structure first. It will be the framework you will begin to fill in with specific tasks, phases, subphases, milestones, and so on.
Following this way of work will help you build a clear vision of the entire project and how all small tasks and parts can be grouped to ensure maximum efficiency.
4. Be well-informed, do your homework
Writing a content plan for an IT project is not a simple task per se, but it will become impossible to complete without careful preparation and extensive research.
Make sure to dedicate enough time to review all project-related documentation, communications, and specifications. This will allow you to understand the end-users needs and expectations much better and define the initial goals properly.
5. Complete assessment
Many IT projects are not started from scratch, and their owners already have some content. You will need to determine whether that content adheres to your current needs, or maybe it should be wholly omitted to ensure the project can reach new goals.
Assessment of success should also include identifying the gaps so that they could be eliminated while developing your content plan. Don't be afraid to ask the client, as discussion helps to achieve shared understanding and be on the same page.
6. Brainstorm ideas for a content plan
As a rule, an IT project cannot be completed by one person. Those who are working on the content plan should also communicate with the involved members of the team. It may be considered as the benefit of an Agile methodology in project development and management.
Everything that makes the initial content plan turn into a successful IT project and also makes the entire process easier is worth considering. Ideas of your teammates may also trigger a new and practical approach that you would like to implement immediately, so all changes should be used.
This tip for using while writing a content plan is also beneficial in terms of motivation and creating a team spirit. The team will feel the possibility to make an impact and work together to achieve a better result. You will also get to know the team better, which will help during allocating tasks stage.
7. Divide and then divide even more
A good content plan will not ask your IT specialists to embrace one massive part of the project at a time. All tasks must be divided into sub-tasks which will help to estimate the workflow, possible missing components and make team members more motivated as smaller portions of work are easier to cover.
Specific timeframes for each part, as well as frequent review of completed parts by the client, should be represented in the detailed high-level outline. This will help to avoid affecting critical components such as the final deadline and the project's budget.
8. Decide what formats are the most efficient
Most likely that the IT project you need to write a content plan for utilizes different forms of conveying the message and achieving its purpose.
A web resource with multiple infographics embedded into the structure will have other requirements than the educational app with hundreds of videos.
Thus, you should consider the peculiarities of requested formats and adjust your content plan accordingly. Modern trends, such as the constant growth of interest in audio and video formats, may require altering the entire IT project's strategy and initial content plan development as a result.
9. Focus on measurable marketing goals
The major idea is not only thinking about the content alone, even though it is the central element of the content plan. Think about the income, as an IT project is intended to bring some useful things in the world and generate revenue flow.
Think about end-users and how they will treat the final project. Implementing measurable criteria to estimate the success based on the market and social research will be beneficial for the entire IT project and involved stakeholders.
Keeping in mind major company's goals, whether it is sustainable growth or brand awareness, is also needed to align all components of your content plan with global strategy.
10. Use efficient software and tools
Convenient tools for creating, managing content, applying, and tracking changes are things that allow your content plan to exist and smoothly turn all steps of your IT project into life.
Whether you decide to use GanttPRO, Microsoft Project, WordPress, HubSpot CMS, or other content management systems, make sure its functionality adheres to the assigned project requirements, and you have all the needed options available.
You will need to consider not only planning, content creation, and publication but also its analytics to apply adjustments along the way when needed.
11. Attention to the allocation of resources
Understanding what needs to be done, what exact type of content is expected, and when is explicitly essential for success. But writing a top content plan is not possible without proper execution. You need to know who will be developing the content and what resources are required for this process.
A successful content plan outlines general responsibilities and people in charge of every specific component, what tools or equipment are needed for completion, and every item's workflow from start to end.
12. Manage content creation process
Developing the initial plan does not mean the work is already done. Managing to create and publish the content regardless of the project's type is the essential component. This way, you can be sure your content plan was completed correctly. If you are struggling with it, check out some writing services, such as ThesisOnTime.
13. Be ready for challenges
Complex IT projects are long-term endeavours that may not constantly develop according to the initial plan.
Interdependencies between tasks as well as their complexity may require changes in the initial content plan. Unclear initial expectations from stakeholders and clients and developing technologies only increase the level of stress while creating the content plan.
Anticipating potential problems and implementing the possibility of eliminating them in the initial content management plan are valuable skills to develop with time. Make your schedule flexible enough to mitigate unforeseen challenges, and this IT project will be successful.
14. Do not miss your deadlines
While this is a pretty obvious piece of advice and not a tip per se, adhering to this requirement on the content plan writing stage is essential as this is the first step of the IT project's life.
Delays with developing structure and distributing tasks will result in subsequent delays and missed deadlines on other steps, confusion due to inattentively completed tasks, and significant frustration of all involved professionals.
This will resemble an avalanche in terms of catastrophically massive damage to the IT project's potential and inability to take things under control. Planning some motivation and stress-relieving training will help you get things done on time from your side so that all other people can follow your example.
15. Time to be unique?
Writing a content plan for the IT project is definitely the time to think about what should make this project unique and how to make it better than competitors. Only this approach will turn a well-written and thoughtful content plan into a truly successful initiative. The method you create will lead to creating content that makes people interested and convinces them that this project is worth checking and paying for.
16. Learn lessons
Did you finish the content plan successfully, and the entire project was launched without issues?
This is good. Did something fail due to flaws in your plan?
This is bad, but at the same time, this is awesome as you will learn the mistake and most likely avoid it in the future. Don't miss the opportunity to look back for a review of achievements and drawbacks and if you overlooked something, make sure to fix that when you write the next content plan.
While learning how to develop a content plan may appear complicated, it is persistence despite all challenges as well as the desire to work and develop in this field that makes all projects you manage very successful.
Just keep reading, reviewing current information and innovative approaches, and your team will absolutely adore the way you write and present content plans. The extra time invested into polishing your plan's relevance to business goals and target audience will be a time well-spent and also beneficial to your career.
Jessica Fender is a copywriter and blogger at GetGoodGrade with a background in marketing and sales. She enjoys sharing her experience with like-minded professionals who aim to provide customers with high-quality services.
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