Thursday, January 28, 2010

Creative Project Management

To be effective and successful, creative project management must be anti-traditional.

The kind of challenges a creative project manager regularly encounters include:
  1. Scope creep and project scope changes. Many of the best ideas will develop during the creative process - so be prepared for this. It is impossible to predict at the outset where all of the twists and turns will be.
  2. Working quickly to ride each projects' momentum, while at the same time incorporating breathing room for the designers. The clients also need time to try on the ideas and make sure they are a good fit for them, their employees and clients.
  3. Having to work within inflexible budgets.
  4. Having to work to strict deadlines.
Here are some tips on how to make your creative project management style anti-traditional!
  1. In your estimates, lay out each proposed project separately, and, if possible, each project should be then broken down into individual steps.
  2. Work step by step, and have your clients agree to working step by step. So if the project scope changes, you don't have to reconsider an entire client-approved proposal. You can easily incorporate scope changes mid-project.
  3. Bill step by step, and/or incorporate progress billing into your system. I used to bill 50% up front and then the other 50% upon final project completion. And each project actually incorporated several mini projects. Unfortunately, by doing this, you run out of $$ to finish the last half... and may not get paid for it up to 6 months upon final project(s) completion! It's hard to run a business like this.
  4. Work quickly on each step within a project like you have just procrastinated for a month on a project due for school tomorrow. Seriously! Some of your best work is produced when you are late and will have to face the consequences :) The time to rest is after certain steps are completed 100%. And be sure to reward yourself for a job well done.
  5. Meet with your clients in person and have telephone meetings. Miscommunications are avoided this way, even though you may think email communication is quicker. Miscommunications can take longer to clear up so don't be shy, call your client and be a pain!
  6. Use 37 Signals' Basecamp to manage your creative projects. I'm not sure what I'd do without Basecamp.
  7. Eliminate needless paperwork and administrative steps.
I would love to hear any of your tips for creative project management!

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