Back a million years ago (I’m talking early 90s here) during my first job out of college at a federal agency, we used routing slips for everything. It was a way to share a common item (whether a magazine, a new handbook or a draft of something) and to make sure everyone saw it. Everyone’s name would be on the slip and that was attached to the document. When you did your part, whether just reading the document or making comments on it, you then initialed the routing slip and gave it to the next person on the list.
With so many more online tools now and with staff often not working in the same physical spaces, we don’t see those paper routing slips nearly as much anymore.
But that function — ensuring everyone has seen something and often in a particular order — is still extremely relevant to nonprofit communications work.
Today, the routing slip function might be partially or fully automated by your project management software. When Person A checks it off of their to-do list, it might automatically be sent to Person B. Or Person A might manually assign it to Person B.
Or maybe you use a shared docs system where you ask people to comment on the document, and then you manage all of the comments and send out the final copy to someone (or someones) for final review.
Regardless of what it physically looks like on paper or on a screen, you need some kind of standard routing process in your work as a communications pro. If you don’t have one now, that is likely a big source of your frustrations at work.
I encourage you to visually map this route out. First, think of the path that your work products follow as they move from idea to assignment to first draft to draft that gets reviewed by others, to eventually a finished product that gets published. You may have many different paths, depending on what it is you are creating. Ideally, this path is fairly clear and straight, but we know in reality that the path may double back on itself sometimes!
Now here’s the routing part: Who are the people that touch that work product along the way? What are they supposed to do with it? How does it move from one person to another? Does it always come back to you in between each step, or can it go directly from one person to another?
And how does that happen? Are you doing this through project management software? Or through a series of emails? Or during meetings?
Managing this whole process, the people in it, and when each step happens is a HUGE part of your work as a communications professional, even though this responsibility is rarely if ever named directly.
So what does your “routing slip” look like, whether it’s physical or digital? I’d love to hear about it!