Our project was to create an awareness brochure that would describe our organization’s programs and services. The idea followed from our consulting project with the goal formalizing our organization’s external messaging.
Near West Side CDC provides services to low and moderate-income residents in the West Haven community. These services include job preparation, life skills training, financial literacy, social services, youth programs, and housing to residents who would otherwise be homeless. Near West works with residents to create strategies for supporting the neighborhood’s social infrastructure, improving the aesthetic identity, improving access to education, and attracting more jobs to the area.
Our original idea (and project proposal) was to hold a carnival event on our organization’s premises. As we reflected on the work breakdown, we quickly realized there were many risks associated with the project that were out of our control and difficult to mitigate. Instead we chose to create awareness flyers which the organization could distribute and cover our costs through a bake sale. We are happy to report that we successfully created our awareness materials and covered all costs associated with making them.
The main lesson learned through this project was to understand scope of what you are undertaking and realize you have the power to adjust if the situation requires. Our original carnival idea had many risks: weather, attendance, location, materials, and organizational cooperation. Our team at first felt overwhelmed by the deliverables but was able to pivot, and made the decision as a group to scrap the original idea and to start a new project entirely. Our revised project was much more realistic and had three main paths in the project network: bake sale, flyer design, and content creation. Much more of this project was under our control and could be worked on in parallel to meet our class time frame.
Another lesson was to not underestimate the importance of the risk management plan. Even though we significantly reduced project risk after our revision, we still relied on the risk management plan to help us through a few hiccups. For example, we were not able to find a student graphic designer at an appropriate cost to help us design the flyers. Our risk management plan told us to switch over to Canva and design the flyers ourselves after the trigger date had passed without any drama.
Our advice is to truly think about the scope of your project before you commit. Take care in your risk planning to decide if the project has a good likelihood for success. Be creative and enthusiastic with your ideas, but also be realistic. Don’t feel stuck with every aspect of your initial proposal and don’t be afraid to shrink the scope to make your goal achievable.