Project Management for Design Professionals: 4 Things to Know

Assuming that graphic design projects are all about creativity could not be more wrong. Like any other project, your design projects revolve around effective workplace collaboration, aligning strategies with clients’ demands, meeting deadlines, and measuring results. 

Managing graphic design projects is not easy, as you need to constantly balance between encouraging creativity and sticking to the strict schedule. In this article, you will learn a few practical tips on how to get the most out of your project management practices in the creative world of design. 

1. Understand your Team 

The success of a project depends on how well you understand your team. You should know your design team members’ strengths and weaknesses so you can assign tasks accordingly. This way, each designer will be able to put their best foot forward and work on the tasks they are competent for. 

Above all, you will enhance your design team’s morale. Instead of forcing them to fit a specific role, you should understand what motivates them and know how they work. Knowing what to expect from each team member, you will allocate tasks more strategically, improve your team selection processes, and improve workplace productivity. 

2. Improve Workplace Communication

To manage projects efficiently, you need to improve the communication and collaboration between your team members. 

For starters, provide them with clear guidelines and directions. When brainstorming project ideas, tell your design teams what your clients’ goals, expectations, and parameters are. If a client has already chosen the color palette and typography for the logo they want your team to create, state that so your designers can know what to focus on. 

Most importantly, keep them posted about any changes to the project. One of the major responsibilities of project managers is to enable smooth communication between team members and make sure they have the information needed to make the right decisions and proceed with the project. Poor communication is still the major cause of project failure.

3. Use a Project Management Tool

The evolution of sophisticated tech solutions has benefited both design professionals and project managers in multiple ways. And, cloud-based project management software is topping the list. Apart from streamlining any aspects of project management, online collaboration tools also make project information transparent and easily accessible. Centralizing all projects, team members, files, and assignments, a project management tool lets your designers communicate faster and share data more efficiently.

The best thing about online project management software lies in its flexibility. Once you determine your design agency’s specific needs, budget, and goals, the choice usually falls between task management vs project management tools.

Just like their mere name says, task management tools support the lifecycle of a task from start to finish. They let project managers create, assign, and update tasks, set due dates, create subtasks, add comments in tasks, organize tasks, and attach files. They will also send automatic reminders for due dates and integrate with email service providers for better collaboration.

Project management tools are, on the other hand, more complex. Apart from the features mentioned above, they offer more sophisticated features that boost project completion and enhance team collaboration. Some of these features are interactive dashboards, project timelines, visual charts and progress bars, calendar view of each team member’s tasks and deadlines, real-time progress updates, and improved privacy settings.

4. Collaborate with a Client Continuously

When working with a client, it is important to invest in solid and transparent communication with them. Talk to them openly about their priorities, budgets, goals, and needs. Knowing what they want to achieve by hiring you, your designer teams will be able to approach the project more strategically.

For starters, make sure their goals and expectations are specific, achievable, measurable, and timely. If you notice that they are setting unreasonable time frames or goals, talk to them honestly. One of the best ways to ensure better collaboration with a client is to let them view the progress of the project in real-time instead of waiting for your reports or the final version of the project. 

Most importantly, always consult with them about future decisions. This is immensely important for any design professionals. Send a preliminary design version to a client, ask for any suggestions and feedback, and carry out the revisions they require. By collaborating with a client proactively, you will maximize their satisfaction and finalize the project faster.

While collaborating with a client is important, you should also avoid scope creep. Namely, 50% of creative agencies state that over-serving clients causes them to lose at least 11% of their profit. For example, this may happen if the changes a client requests alter the entire scope of the project or if they are making adjustments to the design that has previously been approved. In this case, you need to talk to a client and explain how such radical changes will impact the project delivery and their budget. 

Over to You

Once you formulate a reliable project management strategy, it will be easier for you to improve your design team’s productivity. Most importantly, you will eliminate unnecessary steps, automate repetitive tasks, map and manage any risks, and ensure faster project delivery.

Also, remember that for any project manager in creative industries, any project they work on is a powerful educational resource. When managing projects, you should track their performance and note down what worked or didn’t work for a client so you can improve your services.