It’s getting to be that time of year again. Maybe you’re just starting to get settled into fall, back-to-school, or football season… It’s also a time of year we start to think, plan, and budget for the upcoming holiday season and corporate holiday gifts. It’s a great time, as a company, to step back and recognize clients and business partners that have contributed to your success throughout the year.

However too often, a well-intentioned gesture can come off lacking impact – or worse – give a negative impact.  If you are starting to look into corporate holiday gifts for your clients, partners, or colleagues this holiday season, don’t make these 3 mistakes with YOUR corporate holiday gifts.

Mistake #1 – Not Prioritizing Your Corporate Holiday Gift Budget

It doesn’t make sense to gift all your contacts in the exact same way. Firstly, you probably have clients your company invests more time/resources in than others. Secondly, you may want to recognize other types of contacts (partners, vendors, colleagues) in a different way.

TIP: Spread your holiday budget by dividing your list into 3 categories. This way, more budget can be spent on A contacts, less on B contacts, and least on C contacts. Each contact will receive a nice holiday recognition, and the big impact will go to your highest priority contacts.

Mistake #2 – Choosing the Gifts YOU Want vs What Your CLIENTS Want

Alright, now you have a budget and your lists together. You’re ready to select the PERFECT, most impressive, star-studded gift ever…something you would LOVE to have, right?


Only too often do companies gift items the recipient has no interest in. Not only could your gift have little or no effect, but it may come across in a negative way.

TIP: In a perfect world, holiday gifts would be customized for each and every client, but not many organizations can accommodate this. If you haven’t already completed a Persona Profile, a composite sketch of a key segment of your intended audience or client base, this would be a great exercise to truly understand your contacts/clients. Use your Persona Profile (or multiple if you have them) to select the perfect gift for your audience. Don’t forget to consider if the gift is intended for a department vs one single person. Still having trouble finding the perfect gift? There are many firms out there like Ruhlin Group that specialize in gift strategy (selecting the perfect gift) and ultimately, helping you stand out.

Mistake #3 – Forgetting About Timing

If the end goal of corporate gift giving is to recognize and make an impact, we must realize that breaking through the clutter is a serious issue. The last thing you want to do is wait until the last minute, rush through the motions just to “check the box” of corporate holiday gifts — and “uh oh” your recipient hardly notices your gift.

TIP: Just because many corporate holiday gifts are sent during December, doesn’t mean you should succumb to the temptation. Think about capturing the limelight of “first holiday gift” in October or November? Or even better yet – think outside the box and do your own strategy for year-long client recognition. 

Put it All Together Now

Now you are armed and ready with the knowledge to rock your next corporate holiday gift campaign and ensure you stand out with your clients!

Step-by-step for Organizing Your Next Corporate Holiday Gifts

  1. Determine the best timing for your client appreciation and corporate holiday gifts
  2. Gather your list of intended recipients and group them by contact type (client, business partner, vendor, etc.)
  3. Prioritize your list (As, Bs, Cs) and finalize your budget
  4. Select the perfect gift for each group (keeping client in mind, one person vs entire department)
  5. Pull the trigger on your well laid plans!
  6. Follow-up: make sure it was received, capture any feedback for next time

As Director of Marketing, Colleen Kranz is responsible for the Renodis corporate brand and identity, corporate communications and integrated marketing efforts company-wide. For more information on driving client relations, or if you have any comments or questions related to this post, please contact Colleen at

Many IT organizations have developed a Project Management Office (PMO).  They are usually staffed with competent project managers who have good project management tools and who understand how to get their project across the finish line in a predictable manner (cost and quality).  However, there are unique characteristics of Communications / Telecom projects that demand a hybrid approach, with simple and flexible tools, and staffed by PMs with unique skills.  Yes, this premise is counter-intuitive for anyone who thinks of themselves as a progressive IT leader (me included).  But reality can’t be denied.

First let’s describe how telecom projects are unique, and it all starts with the carriers.  They are the central part of the project, we are trying to implement THEIR services.  Hard to pin down on dates, constantly changing resources, no firm commitments on anything, seemingly no one who can make a decision, “escalation” as a standard operational term, email driven processes, he-said-she-said mistakes … on and on.  Then add a complexity like last-mile services delivered by a completely different LEC than the one holding the contract, and the resulting tiered service model.  And add to all that the environmental component: the services are delivered outside in mother-nature’s domain, where weather can trigger delays, and streets and buildings and parking lots hold secrets until the digging starts.

How does a telecom PM manage through all of that?  First, they need to have a personal skill set that is a match for the chaos:

  • Masters of context switching, as some days are only about nudging a project forward.  They have to be able to manage multiple initiatives, just to stay busy
  • Broad telecom knowledge, the technologies, yes, but equally what can go wrong, and how to get it back on track
  • Expert communicators
  • Skilled at getting things done via influence.  Knowing the art of escalation
  • Managers of project risk and predictors of impact to schedules
  • Effective meeting leaders, covering status and to-dos with clarity and conciseness
  • Unflappable and dogged.

Then their execution model has to simplify the project for everyone involved, right to its essence.  Their PM processes should boil down to:

  • Create and keep a basic project plan
    • What are we trying to accomplish
    • What are the key milestones
    • What help do I need and what resources do I have
    • What are the constraints (time, budget, etc.)
  • Maintain an issues log and decision tracker
  • Effectively build and leverage a stakeholder-based communications matrix.

Trying to model out and maintain a beautiful Work-Breakdown-Structure with task dependencies, resource allocations, activity-level dates and a critical path is ultimately counter-productive.  It will be out-of-date and incorrect almost immediately on project commencement, and take a ton of time to maintain.

And finally, their tools need to be aligned with the execution model.  Flexible, simple to use, easy to understand.  The tools just help track activities, keep project participants on the same page (status)  and allow for issue tracking.   Most projects can be run most effectively with a relatively simple spreadsheet.  Put your energy into staff development and coaching, not tool deployments.

If you apply that lens to your telecom PMO projects it will pay huge dividends for your organization.  The work will get effectively completed, the costs of Project Management will be optimized, and your PMO staff will take great pride in their results and productivity.

About the Author

As Vice President of Client Solutions, Paul Cashin is responsible for leading the services organization at Renodis.

With over 25 years in business/IT consulting, Paul brings strong leadership experience in developing strategy, service offerings, sales/marketing programs, team development, partnership management, and implementation management of projects.

For more information on driving Telecom PMO and improving business outcomes, or if you have any comments or questions related to this post, please contact him at