Inside Look: PlanetSport.tv Relaunch!
Posted on 15 June, 2012 by sampeckham
We launched the new Planet Sport yesterday! Well done team and all those involved. As many of you know we often work in creative access countries and much of our work never gets a public airing by us, although it all remains very active in its respective country. But this project is a little different, so we thought we open it up for all to see.
From conception to our final product we want to share the ups and downs, the lessons, problems and solutions we’ve found along the way. This will be a little longer than usual but hopefully helpful and insightful.
Dating back to the Barcelona Olympics in ’92, 2K Plus has been producing radio programmes that take an inside look at the world of sports, drawing on testimonies, Biblical world view ideas and presenting a relevant, alternative Christ-centered lifestyle through the world of sport.
Emerging more recently as the brand Planet Sport, these radio shows also became a weekly 15 minute podcast, from which a basic Joomla website grew out.
OneSheep approached Planet Sport around October last year with the vision to help them expand from an audio based ministry to a digital media ministry, and take full advantage of the internet age and social media phenomenon. With this joint goal in mind we focussed in on the London 2012 Olympics, as a launch pad.
Lesson 1: Deadlines out of your control
Up to now all of our ministry projects have been fairly time-agnostic, and it’s often been more important to launch a perfectly working site when it’s ready than a partly working site on the agreed date or timeline.
Planet Sport is the first project that has had a hard and fast immovable deadline. The Olympic Games. Missing this by just a week would deem much of the work and effort worthless. When you stack up against such a fixed timeline you need to reconsider your working approach, both planning and implementation but also team work.
Our starting approach to this was to give ourselves plenty of time. But this is a ministry, and we are a small over stretched team and other projects, priorities and issues quickly sucked most of that padding time up. The best laid plans and all that….
The key, at least so far (we’re not done yet!), has been a careful breakdown of the specification and applying a more iterative and agile scrum approach. (A lot can be said about scrum and other project management approaches, but this isn’t the place for that.)
The big picture of this has been breaking out the project into component parts and in the case of the website itself, structuring the implementation in 3 bite(byte!) sized Phases.
Phase 1, which launched yesterday, is a simple replication of the old sites functionality, with a few updated extras. We aimed to bring the core aspects of digital media to the fore in an uncluttered way. Blogging, Podcasting, Videos, Photos and basic Facebook and Twitter integration.
With that done, we could now run a successful Olympics coverage with a solid platform and a better use of digital media than Planet Sport have ever had before. In theory we could stop here and say job well done. But we have grander plans and plenty more ambition!
However, the beauty of this phased approach is that with the old site updated and improved, everything from here on out (and it’s only 5 weeks!), is a bonus.
Lesson 2: Focus on what you do best, but get outside perspective
Having the faith and trust in your team mates to deliver in the skill or knowledge areas they have really helps you deliver a better job on your side too. Letting go of the worries of “is that item going to come in on time” or “have they thought about x” allows you to get right into the detail of your expertise and job.
That’s not to say good communication and open discussion doesn’t happen – it’s vital to ensure you stay on the same page and are all pulling in the same direction. Even inviting others to look at your problems from a different perspective is hugely valuable. You may well be the expert on web design, but your colleagues will be closer to the typical user. Or you may be the expert on Social strategy, but again your colleagues can give the perspective of ‘would I share or Like this?’.
Lesson 3: Buy-in is more than just communicating clearly
Like all great partnerships things never run perfectly smoothly. In our case we’ve had a pretty good run so far, but one area we’re coming up against and tackling is genuine buy-in and a really tightly joined up thinking.
We’ve perhaps been guilty of communicating our plans and strategy for Planet Sport, but not ensuring we have got the buy-in off the back of that – and that takes work. It’s fine to disagree and have healthy debate or discussion, but when moving forward on an idea, the more both sides not just agree but really understand the why of an idea the better the outcome and partnership will be going forward into the next challenge.
There have been times when we’ve had to get retrospective buy-in or explain things ‘properly’ after the event, which can break down trust. In a web project this can occur all over the place, from how you use Facebook, to colours used on the site, to the way a module works right up to the overall feel of the end result.
Your millage and experience will vary depending on how open the partnership and how much freedom you are given to try things out or push new ideas. But in all cases take stock of an idea or plan and step back to think could there be different views on this philosophically, practically or perhaps from an final impression point of view.
Onwards to Phase 2…
There are many other bits we’ve learned and worked through that are more technical, some that are based on our social media experiments, and we’ll continue to share those as we go. Hopefully, this has given you a good top level and honest view of a few things we’re learning when building digital ministry projects.
Now go check out the new site: www.planetsport.tv then come back and leave your thoughts and impressions here!