Critical Path Tracking Adds Value to Oxford County’s Program Relaunch

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Oxford County recently harmonized blue box and garbage curbside programs in seven of their lower tier municipalities targeting improved service delivery and cost savings (reducing the collection contract budget 15%).  CIF supported the communication campaign for the program relaunch under project 947.

Communication campaigns are complex in that there can be many vendors and purchases involved over several months, or in this case years. County staff did an excellent job of planning and organizing the communication activities they needed to accomplish. To do so, they used a variation of a project management tool called the critical path method.

Tracking the campaign

County staff isolated activities into the four phases of the campaign:

Creating a tracking document in Excel, they broke down each phase by activity.

The tracking document was updated and referred to by all staff involved in the project throughout the campaign to keep on top of activities, project costs and other important issues.

Where’s the value?

Developing the tracking document is an investment up front that creates value throughout the campaign.

The benefits include:

  • Ensuring tasks are completed and on time
  • Allowing for quick access to information
  • Assisting in financial tracking and reporting
  • Creating accountability through transparency

What would they do differently next time?

The information staff tracked in excel is a perfect example of when to use a pivot table.  Pivot tables are easy to use tools for managing large amounts of data.  In this case, a pivot table would allow you to:

  • Calculate costs for accounting periods
  • Sort activities for when they, or if they, need to be completed
  • Sort by person responsible

All of which improve efficiency in managing the many moving parts in these complex projects and simplify the reporting process afterwards. CIF has published an example P&E Tracking Tool.

Key Take-away

Communication campaigns often occur over long time period, have a lot of people involved in the project, and source materials from many vendors.  To pull off a successful campaign, it pays to be well organized and have this information quickly available at your fingertips.  Tracking your campaign activities and expenses in a database lowers the risk tasks will be forgotten (or completed late) and simplifies reporting to management, council, and funding agencies.

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