Keeping a project on the critical path requires a solid team. (Photo by M.C. Lester)

We're frequently asked to help clients build a project or in-house writing team. We start by identifying the critical roles (explained in part 1)we needed and then look at who's best suited to fill them.  Then we develop a set of "roles and rules," like this:

The Client Liaison is the main client contact handles interactions between the creative team and the client/stakeholders. The ideal candidate is adept at working with people at all rungs of the corporate ladder and helping them meet deadlines.

The Planner/Pre-Writer is in charge of getting the right people to the table and facilitating their thinking. S/he is responsible for completing the pre-writing or planning document and getting it to the Client Liaison for approval by appropriate people before drafting begins. The best candidate is someone who can facilitate group work effectively and manage egos. This person can also be the Drafter.

The Drafter has the most content knowledge and the ability to write quickly. S/he will revise and edit the draft before sharing it with the Big Reviser. In addition to preparing the draft, s/he will process all client/stakeholder and team revisions and edits.

The Big Reviser reviews the draft for the Six Big Revisions. Like the Drafter, this person should have solid content knowledge and the ability to evaluate:
•    Purpose. Make sure the purpose is clear, and that the main idea and details support it.
•    Main Idea. What’s the most important thing we want readers to know? Is that obvious?
•    Details. Look closely at the draft’s details. Are they the right ones and is there enough description for the reader?
•    Beginning. Is the beginning engaging enough to entice people to read?
•    Ending. Does the closing leave the reader with a clear sense of what was important and what they need to think or do?
•    Order. Is the information organized in a way that leads the reader into the conclusion? Does the document flow fluidly from one point to the next?

The Small Reviser handles smaller, more technical revisions. S/he should be very strong on usage, word choice and sentence structure/fluency. On a small team, a good candidate may be the Big Reviser, or the Editor/Proofer. However, it’s best to have a single person to:
•    Reduce total word count.
•    Choose better verbs, and using fewer of them.
•    Remove unnecessary introductory phrases and parenthetical remarks.
•    Delete qualifying statements.
•    Take out repetitive phrases or ideas.
•    Correct deeply nested constructions.
•    Adjust tone to ensure it’s appropriate for the audience.

The Editor/Proofer
is the resident expert on SPUG specialist. S/he will look for errors in words, sentences and paragraphs; and ensure style requirements are met. The Editor/Proofer should see the document a minimum number of times so s/he has “fresh eyes” to catch errors others have missed.

The Production/Traffic Coordinator
moves the project from point to point in the process and makes final preparations for production. This person should be a solid organizer and scheduler. The role could be played by the Client Liaison or the Drafter.

Getting people in the right roles isn’t just feel-good team-building stuff. There’s research that shows that working at the nexus of what you like to do, what you do best and what is valuable to the organization benefits employees and employers alike. This is because a good fit increases productivity and performance, as well as attendance and job satisfaction. Get this right and not only do you improve the quality of your communication, but you improve the bottom line.

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Need help building your own team or designing a project? Contact me.

More information on team writing can be found here.

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