The Never Ending Creative Project
Creative Design Project Management it Still Project Management
Project management is project management – no matter what the industry and no matter what type of project. Certainly, the detail and process differs a bit from type of project to type of project, but overall they are basically the same.
I’ve learned a bit the hard way from a personal experience that is going on right now for me. We purchased a home – more for the lot it sits on than for the home itself. We envisioned what the home could be…and that’s why my wife spent dozens of hours creating a kitchen design she liked and could live with given our family size and kitchen usage. We employed a contractor, gave him our move in date, and asked if he can meet that date (knowing we need move-time of about a week prior). He said he could. That targeted completion date came and went about two weeks ago. A lot has been done on the house, but nothing – repeat nothing – has been truly finished. It will get finished and it will look incredible. I know that. But for some reason I took off my project management hat and shot this one from the hip. Bad call on my part. I’m paying my contactor weekly and I am still lacking a hard end date which means I’m also lacking hard pack and move in dates. When you have a family that is the size that mine is, that’s a problem.
What should I have done differently? Lots. But seriously, I’ve managed creative design projects before that involved website design, marketing projects and marketing materials, advertising rollouts, etc. And I’ve also managed countless technical projects focusing on delivering a useable end solution to an anxiously awaiting project customer. I knew how to manage all of those…why change for this one? It isn’t so much that it was a personal project for me. It was also about the fact that it wasn’t as large as many of the projects I’ve managed and it wasn’t a long-term project – it was about a three-week effort that is turning into six weeks minimum.
What should I have done differently? Specifically? At a minimum, these things should be done….no matter what size the effort is…
Project schedule. I should have drawn up a specific project schedule – at least at a fairly high level – and shared that with the contractor. That way, I would have given him a visual – with specific tasks to complete - to see what the key dates and milestones were. I think it would have done a much better job of keeping him on track. And I probably would be writing this from our new house today, rather than from our previous residence which is, unfortunately, still our current residence. (Yes, that means we are paying for two houses…).
Project budget. I should have shared my project budget with the contractor. That would have given him the clear picture that this is not a project of unlimited financial resources. I have to be careful here because I am merely a weekend warrior on house projects – meaning I certainly lack the skills to properly finish what has been started. Therefore, removing this contractor from his position is not in my best interest – or even on the table for that matter. But being more open about the budget for the project may have pushed this engagement along to completion at an earlier date than we are now going to realize.
Weekly meetings. While I know the contractor well and we have been in frequent communication with him – even helping to some degree along the way with certain tasks – I feel that a formal, regular weekly meeting would have provided great nefit. A week ending meeting every Friday to discuss what was accomplished that week, what’s planned for the next week, and what issues need resolving would have formalized what has become an informal process. And it would have wrapped it into one 1 hour meeting each week rather than random 2-hour discussions here and there that tend to throw the project off track rather than bring the expected clarity.
The bottom line is this….creative design vs. technical implementation, small project vs. long-term formal project, personal initiative vs. professional engagement…it doesn’t really matter. The underlying best practices for ensuring that your project gets done in a professional, cost effective and timely manner are still the same. The details may differ, but the need for those same processes and oversight is still there.