When you are planning a publication, you should always have a schedule or project plan in place.
The schedule needs to include time for:
- preparing a brief
- appointing external writers, designers and printers, as required
- copywriting, either externally or in-house
- preparing illustrations or photography
- publication design
- sign-off on proofs for printing
Preparing your schedule
You should draw up your schedule by working back from your absolute final deadline, for example, a conference at which a report is due to be launched.
Build in enough contingency time to deal with problems. Taking the previous example, do not plan for a key report to be delivered on the morning of the launch conference. This allows you no margin for error if the delivery fails to arrive or if the report has been printed incorrectly.
Be sure to allow adequate time for each stage of the process. If using external writers, designers and printers, they will tell you how much time they need to complete each stage. If time is tight, make sure you do not compromise on quality. This is particularly important where printing is concerned.
If you are writing the material in-house, always give your team deadlines some way ahead of when you actually need the material. This gives time to review and redraft any material if necessary. This is particularly important for publications like annual reports.
Remember that someone within your organisation with the appropriate level of sign off will need to be available at key stages. For example, all designers and printers will require the commissioning organisation to sign off proofs before they can finish the job.