An audience list template is a predesigned audience list that contains typical audiences for projects similar to yours. The template reflects the cumulative experiences of a particular type of project. As you perform more projects, you can add audiences to the template that you overlooked in earlier projects and remove audiences that proved unnecessary. Using templates can save you time and improve your accuracy.
Suppose you prepare the budget for your department each quarter. After doing a number of these budgets, you know most of the people who give you the necessary information, who draft and print the document, and who have to approve the final budget. Each time you finish another budget, you revise your audience list template to include new information from that project. The next time you prepare your quarterly budget, you begin your audience list with that template. You then add and subtract names as appropriate for this particular budget preparation.
When using audience list templates, keep the following in mind:
i Develop templates for frequently performed tasks and for entire projects. Templates for kicking off the annual blood drive or submitting a newly developed drug to the Food and Drug Administration are valuable. But so are templates for individual tasks that are part of these projects, such as awarding a competitive contract or printing a document. Many times projects that appear totally new contain some tasks that you've done before. You can still reap the benefits of your prior experience by including the audience list templates for these tasks into your overall project audience list.
i Focus on position descriptions rather than the names of prior audiences. Identify an audience as accounts payable manager rather than Bill Miller. People come and go, but functions endure. For each specific project, you can fill in the appropriate names.
i Develop and modify your audience list template from previous projects that actually worked, not from plans that looked good. Often you develop a detailed audience list at the start of your project but don't revise the list during the project or add audiences that you overlooked in your initial planning. If you only update your template with information from an initial list, your template can't reflect the discoveries you made throughout the project.
i Use templates as starting points, not ending points. Make clear to your team that the template isn't the final list. Every project differs in some ways from similar ones. If you don't critically examine the template, you may miss people who weren't involved in previous projects but whom you need to consider for this one.
I Continually update your templates to reflect the experiences from different projects. The postproject evaluation (see Chapter 15) is an excellent time to review and critique your original audience list, so take a moment to be sure your template reflects your experience.
Templates can save time and improve accuracy. However, starting with a template that's too polished can suggest you've made up your mind about its contents, which may discourage people from sharing their thoughts freely about the list. Their lack of involvement may lead to their lack of commitment to the project's success.
Was this article helpful?
What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.