Every business has that pile of projects that constantly gets put on the back burner, or set aside for when "we've got some time."

Often these projects seem too big, too daunting, or just plain insurmountable. A project like opening and entering new inventory into the system is very different than a website rebuild that involves changing hosting providers, creating a new design, and pages of copy to write, review, edit, and approve.

But how do you take a big ass (BA) project and get it done? To me, it's like cleaning the garage; to clean it all at once can be a beast, but to clean just the left quarter of it, with the old recyclable iPods and Kindles and the boxes you've stored stuff in and not opened in years, well that's easier.

So here is how we tackle BA projects at our email marketing company, VerticalResponse:

1. Outline the entire project first. I don't care if it's in Evernote, a Google doc, or a plain old Word doc. Get all of the things that are in need of a "done" criteria on paper, whether real or virtual.

2. Look at all of the tasks for dependencies. You can't start to write copy for your website without knowing what the design might be because you need to know the amount of space you'll have. Alternatively, if you need certain copy on the new website you need to design the site so it fits and accomplishes your goals. So make sure you put the horse (what's more important) before the cart.

3. Break up the project into manageable tasks. At VerticalResponse, we develop online software. Our tasks are broken down into small wins, where we can release small pieces of code to make sure it plays nice with our existing code. The same thing works with any project. With the example of the new website, you can work on the layout first, then the colors, then the design, finally the content. This way you make it easy to get the job done in more manageable chunks.

How do you handle BA projects? Share in the comments.

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Published on: Feb 20, 2014
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