Admind_Talks: Interview with Anna Janczak, Project Manager specializing in annual reports

8 min read

Admind_Talks: Interview with Anna Janczak, Project Manager specializing in annual reports

How do you make sure your creative ideas fit the guidelines and regulations?

Balancing the need for creativity with compliance with regulatory standards requires a strategic approach. It starts with building a team that is fully aware of the annual report project’s objectives and possesses strong cooperation skills, even under tight time constraints. Secondly, it is necessary from the very beginning to establish a clear framework for creativity while ensuring compliance. Typically, the first part of the report, where we present the company’s profile, key achievements, and strategic goals, allows for more creativity. Then, in the financial section, the team must focus on message clarity in line with applicable regulations. As many people are involved in reporting projects, balancing the needs of various stakeholders is an ongoing process. Only regular communication and consistent feedback can maintain the balance and create an exceptional final product.

From your perspective as a project manager, what would you identify as the most significant challenges when overseeing an annual report project? Are there any specific hurdles that tend to arise in these projects that you need to navigate?

Time is the most significant challenge. Annual report projects are known for their inflexible timelines. Even the most meticulously prepared schedule is rarely perfectly adhered to by all stakeholders involved in the preparation process. Furthermore, the approval process is often complex and usually only achievable in the final stages, involving proofreading, communication specialists, and board members. The key to dealing with this challenge is being prepared for unexpected delays, having contingency plans in place, and maintaining team morale to ensure everyone remains goal-oriented. Sometimes, this may involve additional support during evenings or weekends to meet deadlines.

Given your extensive experience with multiple annual reports over recent years, have you observed any trends or changes in how these projects are executed?

Over the last 15 years, I have witnessed a significant evolution in annual report projects. They have transitioned from traditional print-centric formats to dynamic and interactive digital documents. The focus has shifted from aesthetically pleasing data presentation to a user-friendly navigation and content readability. Minimalistic, clean layouts with ample white space are prevalent, enhancing content digestibility. Additionally, annual reports increasingly incorporate interactive elements such as scrolling animations and parallax effects to engage readers and elevate overall design sophistication.

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We already know what is important during the annual report creation process. Could you please provide some insights on how a client should prepare for such work to ensure it goes smoothly and efficiently?

The projects can be extremely stressful due to the involvement of numerous parties, often holding high positions in the company. We strive to take on the burden of developing a cohesive vision, often reconciling not only different but also conflicting interests of decision-makers. The best way to share knowledge and experience with clients is to start by preparing a comprehensive project roadmap well in advance, involving all relevant parties. Another essential step is agreeing on a single main point of contact.. While there may be various stakeholders involved in annual report creation, designating one source of truth on the client’s side ensures a smooth and efficient communication process. This dedicated person, with appropriate skills and authorizations, is responsible for collecting all materials and providing consistent feedback promptly during the design and review stages. From that point, the work needs to proceed on two fronts. First, the client must compile all relevant financial and non-financial data in accordance with industry standards. Secondly, they should provide clear communication regarding their objectives, priorities, and any specific themes or messages they wish to convey. This information is crucial for the design team and serves as a guide for creating a unique concept each year. Ultimately, the project is about presenting relevant data in the most engaging way possible. Once the entire process is well-structured, the real challenge begins. The clock is ticking, but everyone knows their role, increasing the likelihood of success.

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