If you had to do it all over again on your most recent creative project – what would you do differently this time around? What sort of “lessons” did you learn? You know how they say on your deathbed you probably would never say “I wish I had spent less time with my family and more time fishing.” In hindsight, it’s always the important stuff that you wish you had done more of. What would that be for you? Think about it – think back to you last project… or your last few projects – and please discuss.
When I look back (even though I consider myself fairly strong in all three of these areas) I usually come back to three main areas.
You’re probably tired of hearing it, but communication is Job #1 in my book for project managers. No one failed from over communicating information on projects. It doesn’t guarantee success, but it sure helps to avoid failure sometimes. If your team, your client and your management know where things stand, who is assigned to what and what the issues are – all information that you, as the project manager, are communicating daily or weekly – then fewer things are likely to fall through the cracks, get miscommunicated or misinterpreted, and your team members will show more ownership and accountability for their tasks and for the project. And the more engaged your client will likely be… which leads me to the next item on the list.
Engage the client more.
Keeping the client engaged is critical because a disengaged client may be unavailable for information and for decision making when you need them. Slowing the project down at critical points when you need your client to be available can cause timeline issues, budget issues and can lead to missed deliverables and milestone deadlines. Also, if your client isn’t available when you need feedback on a requirement interpretation, you could end up designing the ad or marketing effort differently than was needed due to misinterpretation of that requirement. That may not seem like much at that moment. But it can definitely snowball, leading to a final project rollout that doesn’t quite meet the overall requirements for the client. FAIL.
Manage the budget more closely.
In my opinion, the budget is probably about the hardest thing to keep in check throughout the creative project. I can’t remember the last time I brought in a project significantly under budget. Usually, if I’m lucky, I come in on budget, or at least within an acceptable five to ten percent over budget. Managing the budget weekly and reforecasting with actuals updated weekly is key to staying on top of your creative project budget. Trust me; you can’t place too much oversight on this one area of the project.
Well, that’s my three. My usual three, anyway. How about you? What would you change or do differently on your last project or your last few projects, given the chance? Once we sit down and look at that, then we can apply what we've learned going forward to make our next few projects more successful.