Project management has a wide range of definitions. At one end, there is the Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide, defined by the Project Management Institute. This extensive definition of project management is mismatched to how small businesses work, and is primarily what agile development, and simplified web 2.0 services, are revolting against. At the other end, there is Getting Things Done and its ilk. Sometimes over simplified, these methodologies work well for tackling tasks as a freelancer.
The needs of a creative agency usually fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. As creatives, we don’t want to be bound by process. The words “project management” conjure up images of shackles and chains. But we creatives do need some process. The challenge of a creative agency is to incorporate project management in a way that creates process while giving creatives room to do their thing.
At Pelago, we incorporated a project manager and project management task software into our process, and have never looked back. Although, most creative firms could easily get by with either a project manager or software. There are many web-based project management services available, including Intervals, that will help a creative firm establish process. The important thing is to find a process that will work for your agency.
Most important, though, are your people. Whichever process you adopt, it needs to be one that organizes workflow without hindering the abilities and talents of your people. Let their creativity alleviate the tedium of day-to-day project management. Get creative with your task titles and comments, or track the time you spend playing video games and post reports on the crit wall.
In many design firms the project manager is still an emerging position… It is up to the project manager to keep an eye on the goals and objectives of the project—both for the client and the design team. Clients are just as easily seduced by sexy layouts as their creators are, but it is the project manager’s job to avoid those temptations and make sure the project meets its objectives.