Managing creative teams comes with its own set of difficulties. Anybody who works in this industry will tell you that creative minds work best in a flexible environment that enables experimenting, testing limits and exploring new ideas. That can cause quite a headache for project managers whose job it is to keep a project on schedule and to budget. However, with few tricks up your sleeves, you can set a solid base for successful creative project planning and lead the project in the right direction.
1. Drawing up a project plan is an essential base for creative project planning
As an integral element of any project, planning and making a project plan is something that has to be done meticulously. It will mean resisting the urge to dive right in as soon as you receive a new brief. You will have to look at a bigger picture and count in all the features regarding the project, client’s desires and your team capabilities.
During your initial meetings, draw up a plan in consultation with your client. After you determine all the details, off on the agreed plan together. Making a bulletproof plan will immensely.
A good plan for creative project planning will entail:
An overview of the project – Setting the project aims, objectives and end goal.
The strategy of project realization – what is necessary to be done to make project successful
The key milestones – Breaking down the project in several stages will let you stay more on track with all the tasks. Set project management milestones for each stage, their deadlines and the strategy on how to reach them. It will give a comprehensive view of the project’s progress at any time.
Assigning roles and responsibilities for team members – When you know exactly what you need from your team, you can start assigning them tasks. Make a selection according to their fields, but also keep in mind their capabilities to reach certain deadlines.
The project budget – Of course, the realization of any project is not possible without the funds to support it. It will be determined by the client’s budget, but it’s up to you to relocate finances to cover each part of the project.
Set out communication channels – Ask your team members about their preferred methods of communication. It should be easily accessible and free platform for all included. When dealing with the creatives, the fast flow of information is crucial, so think about informal ways to communicate with them. It can be trough Slack, Viber, What’s Up or you can use some . An email should be used for briefs, project delivery, and more professional communication, but opt-out for some faster app when taking with your team on a regular basis.
2. Clarify expectations in advance
Writers, designers and other creative team members are losing a lot of their time by editing their work due to miscommunication, misunderstanding, and changing expectations as the project evolves.
In this situation, the only culprit is the project manager who was making assumptions about the client’s requirements instead of explicitly asking simple questions crucial for project realization. Managers who want to excel in creative project planning have to squeeze every important information and to pay attention to all client desires and remarks.
Think of the project manager as the bridge connecting the client from one side to the creative team on the other. It is your job to translate the client’s requirements to the creative so they can work their magic. Ensuring that everyone is on the same page from the very beginning of the project will save significant time and cost down the line.
3. Don’t agree to unrealistic deadlines
As a project manager, you will commonly meet the clients who want everything done yesterday. While keeping clients happy is our aim, blindly agreeing to their unrealistic demands will take the whole project down the drain. You will have a hard task – not to alien such clients and also not to put pressure on unreachable project goals to your creatives. Creative teams need time to play, sketch out designs, and brainstorm ideas, so working under high time pressure is very contra-productive.
Your team is your biggest asset, so try to explain to your client how the creative process works and why the looser timeframe is necessary. If it is still insisting on a non-negotiable deadline, be realistic about what you can achieve during that time and present that to a client. Sometimes is even better to lose an unreasonable client than to force a team to meet a tight deadline and drain their creativity.
4. Good communication is the key to successful creative project planning
Communicating regularly with your creative team will prevent misunderstandings about the completion of the tasks. It shouldn’t be up your team members to chase deadlines and verify information – it is your job to deliver them.
Luckily, many good can help you keep everybody updated on progress, notified about any problems or issues, and informed about any updates.
The same goes for your client – you have sent it regular updates about the project progress. That way you can keep track is the project going in the direction your client intended.
5. Be flexible with work hours
Another thing that makes creative project planning more difficult for managers is that creativity usually doesn’t fit into a regular 9-to-5 schedule. Someone has a brilliant idea as they open their eyes in the morning, while others produce their best work in the dead of the night.
Since many employers don’t acknowledge this fact, many creatives are turning to freelance careers where they can work on their schedule. Giving your team flexibility to work at the time that’s most suitable for them will bring excellent results.
If you assign them the work they need to complete rather than dictate the hours you want them to work, they will be more motivated and inspired to create. With good organization, close monitoring by your part and respecting the task’s timeframes, their working hours won’t interfere with the project deadlines. In fact, it can even lead to finishing it up even sooner than estimated.
Based on his experience as a project manager and digital marketer, Jovan Miljevic is currently Head of Marketing at . With an intention to help the new PM’s to find their path in the maze of project planning, he’s offering insider tips and tricks, based on proven techniques and real-life situations.