It’s easy to get lost in time, especially when managing a rollout in multiple time zones. A global signage & graphics rollout is complex by nature, but time zone differences can also be a major source of confusion and miscommunication. “You’re one hour behind, right?” is not an uncommon question, and making mistakes like this often causes a great deal of frustration.
Being a fully remote team, it’s a never-ending process of double-checking if we got the time zone right that keeps us on our toes. While this is essential for us to ensure that everything is planned accordingly in our calendars, clients and freelancers may not be accustomed to working this way. We know that this is also often the case for our customers—the signage installation companies.
Therefore, considering our personal experience and communicating with sign and graphics installation companies we work with, we’ve prepared four tips to help you stay in sync with your teams and customers when working on a global rollout in multiple time zones.
1. Outline the project’s deadlines and goals with the client
The earlier you start working together with your client on your next global signage & graphics rollout project, the more time you will have to structure it as efficiently as possible. It will give you time to build the base for your teams and clearly understand the client’s goals for the project.
So, while the production team will be focusing on technical stuff, it’s time for you, as an installation project manager, to collect the necessary information from the client and convert it into handy documents and spreadsheets.
This way, you can have the work done for that vinyl graphics project (even if it’s just planning and steps to take) long before the due date and eliminate last-minute stress.
2. Create calendar overview
Keeping an accurate and up-to-date calendar of due dates reminds you of what you need to complete and when. Rather than being overwhelmed by a long checklist of things to do, a calendar provides the space to plan for each due date.
Some tools can help simplify the scheduling of any signage or graphic installation project. In the case of intuitive calendars, you can see if all jobs and scheduled sign fitters align appropriately. This way, you can spot overlaps that might disrupt smooth workflow.
An all-in-one calendar view is one of the many features that Vism offers. It helps companies gain control over installations, avoid conflicts, plan smarter, start new jobs in seconds, and track the status of every job. This feature allows you to see everyone’s workload and also who is available—in-house staff, subcontractors, or freelancers.
3. Reach out to subcontractors
When you already have a team in place in a particular region or state, working on a multi-site signage and signage rollout is much easier. If that’s not a possibility, collaborating with sign installation subcontractors in that area can help boost your wide-format print business. Such outsourcing brings more flexibility and cost-saving opportunities than hiring permanent employees (but keep in mind that efficient scheduling is even more vital in this case). There are industry-specific sources available for searching for freelancers and subcontracting companies, such as the Signage Installations Directory.
When installation managers find new contacts, they should know how to build long-term partnerships with reliable graphics installers. For example, it’s helpful to keep an organised database of freelance installers for when you need them or in case of last-minute changes. There are several steps you can take that will help you build a robust network of freelance installers and sub-contractors. For tips, check out one of our recent articles about outsourcing to sub-contractor companies with their own teams of signage installers.
4. Establish efficient communication with the installation team
One of the most common challenges that arise working on global signage and graphics rollout is inconsistent communication. It's easy to get lost in the communication between phone calls, emails, social media, and messaging apps, especially across different time zones. Therefore, choosing a single platform for communicating with the project manager, installers, suppliers, sub-contractors, and customers will help you reduce the time spent trying to keep everybody up to date.
There are tools specifically designed with such features—the software automatically adds each team member to a group chat, accounts for the time difference, and stores all documents in one place.
A few more steps worth considering
There are many other things to plan and arrange before the installation, such as access to the shops/sites (would you need to get the keys beforehand?), whether graphics or signage will be finished in time, and how they will get to the locations.
Considering these logistical steps and the four tips we’ve mentioned in this article will help you successfully manage a global signage and graphics rollout in multiple time zones.