Even The Creative Needs To Be A Project Manager

Ok, so let me first give you an idea of who I am. Firstly, I often feel that I am a walking contradiction; I am a creative person, that loves photography, videography, and design. A person that loves the freedom of imagination. I am also a person that craves order, structure, and processes. 

My career has been steeped in roles that involved Process Analysis, Waste Reduction, and Project Management. My hobbies and passions have, over the last few years, become a distinct part of my working life, due to setting up a Creative Design company.

This combination of passion and career has turned out to be the best directional decision I ever made. It has enabled me to express my creative tendencies, while still making the most of ‘Mr O.C.D’.

One thing I (and my team) have found, is that for a product or service to be delivered in timely fashion, and to the correct brief, there needs to be parameters for the creative mind to work within.

In the early days, we didn’t have robust processes. Some of the pitfalls of not having structure were particularly troublesome; projects with incomplete briefs, multiple points of contact on the customer side, changes being made, and discussed, without informing the team and so on.

We quickly realised that this had to stop. The more we discussed it, the more we realised that we were pulling on our Project Management and Process Improvement experience, to resolve the issues.

As expected with Continuous Improvement, we are always evolving our processes and reviewing their suitability, yet we have found that a few things always happen, and we ensure that these are always built in to the first stages of any project we undertake.

Collect all the information
We often get approached by customers that aren’t exactly sure of what they want. This is fine as part of our service is to consult with our customers to understand them and their business, to ensure they get what they need as well as what they want. Operating a ‘Stage and Gate’ approach has enabled us to use a ‘Gatekeeper’ to ensure we have collected all of the information we need to progress to the next stage.

Share the knowledge
Before we sign off on any brief, we discuss the information as a team. We detail all of the resources we will need, who’s skills fit which task, who will lead the project and so on. This gives everyone a clear understanding of our roles and responsibilities.

Get the customer to sign off on our proposal
Now this sounds like and egg sucking situation, yet this puts pen to paper, makes everything transparent, and most importantly, reduces confusion later down the line.

Map the project and create the timeline
As a result of taking the previous steps, we have all of the information to create a realistic project timeline, with people assigned to tasks, resources highlighted, and full transparency with our customer.

This wouldn’t an article worth reading without a mention of the software we use. As a team that often work remotely, we have found Wrike, Slack, and Dropbox Paper to be invaluable.

Now I have to say that all of these provisions do have their downfalls, yet the ability to map a project in Wrike, report on it and monitor tasks, really make being a Project Manager easy. We also link it to Slack and use specific channels to share information, keeping everyone up to date with the project progress.

Talking of sharing information, we always work collaboratively in Dropbox Paper. This allows us to collect information, discuss our thoughts on it, and most importantly, promotes teamwork.

So there are my thoughts, hopefully most people who read this will already being carrying out their own way of doing this, yet some people out there are early in to their journey and will get something valuable from my learnings.


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