Having a project plan is necessary. It is good for estimating, understanding the scope, and being sure we and our clients have a good understanding of what needs to be done. But there is more to project planning than having a project plan. The plan has to be realistic.
The good news is that a realistic plan is a natural outgrowth of the way in which we manage our projects. It’s important to understand how we individually work and what we can deliver before developing a project plan and timeline for the client.
The first notion is just to borrow a project management system to follow. And there are a ton of project management systems out there (scrum, agile, kaizen, kanban, waterfall, and any combination of these). However, I find that these are only great for programmers and developer types. They often run counter to the creative process. That doesn’t mean these systems are useless to designers. It’s just that it’s more useful to develop or augment a system that works for the visual design process.
So, how do we determine what we need?
To start we need to understand how we work, and what’s our most effective approach to any given project. To do this we need to answer at least 3 important questions:
Does it make sense? Is it easy to understand?How long will we work with a system that we don’t understand ourselves? Managing projects is sometimes counter-intuitive to the creative process. So, when it isn’t clear why we are using a certain system, it will quickly become unusable.
Is it sustainable? Can it be kept up and used daily as a lifestyle?What does it look like day-to-day making entries and so forth? Can we see ourselves using the system on a daily basis? Imagine it for a day. Try using it for a month. How do we feel? Is it effortless, or tiresome?
Does it work?Can we retrieve the information we need easier? Are the goals and purposes met? To answer this we need to be clear why we need a system. Is it to track the progress of jobs, be able to spot trouble, and plan ahead effectively? Then the system should allow us to do this better and more efficiently than without it.
There is much more to say about this, but this will be a good start to better visual design project management.
Photo courtesy cohdra of Morguefile.com