One element of doing a great job when designing for a client is, as expected, delivering a great concept. Another crucial aspect? The way you handle organizing it all.
In the Core77 discussion boards, chriscarter asks a relevant question for pretty much any designer juggling multiple projects at once:
I'm interested in how design consultancies manage multiple projects and resources efficiently. We have typically used Excel sheets in the past, but it can be sluggish and inefficient. [Microsoft Project] doesn't seem much easier to use.
What I'm looking for is an effective method of managing top level multi-project schedules and team resourcing, but also managing specific tasks within a particular project (i.e. the stage gates of a typical NPD process). As a designer first, and project leader second, I want a project management tool to be intuitive and easy to use. I've noticed a lot of web based project management tools available - has anyone got experience of these?
Is there a tool out there that acts as a magic weapon when it comes to managing multifaceted or multiple projects? Are certain programs more appropriate for different sizes and types of projects? Core77 discussion board member Cyberdemon says absolutely:
"If you're working as part of a larger organization, [Microsoft Project] may be unavoidable especially in a Gantt chart driven project.
A lot of people like Smartsheet, though now that I focus on software it's more about Agile tools like Jira. I've been using an open source Gantt tool for when I absolutely need to make one to communicate high level schedules.
If your job is designing first, figure out how to focus on design while keeping the PM [project management] work to a minimum. Most larger consultancies ultimately end up hiring a dedicated PM as they grow to deal with this, since it's difficult to do both effectively, especially if you're spending 4 hours a day on management, client communication, etc.
Gantt charts may be the norm, but they sure ain't the most intuitive
Core77 regular Michael DiTullo (aka "yo") shares a tool that helps on the front of marketing and branding—
"We use Teamwork... not the concept, though that helps, [but] the software.
Right now we only use it on our marketing and brand design teams, but will likely roll it out to NPD at some point."
As Jamie Oetting of Hubspot points out, there a few things that are important to consider when choosing the right tool for an agency, a few of those being—
-Can your project management evolve with you as your agency grows?
- Is it user-friendly?
- Can it integrate well with other softwares you use?
- How will your clients be interacting with your management tool?
- Have you established what the ultimate goal is of using your project management tool?
These are all valid points when digging into what software works best for you, so choose wisely.
What works for you?
We want to hear what's worked for you in the past, whether it's a particular project management software or simply a tip on how to run a project efficiently, manage stress, or even cut corners to make your life during the course of a project run more smoothly.