We’re not all born to be project managers, are we?
The dream of becoming a project manager came to me two years ago. But after trying myself in this role – I realized I wasn’t cut out for this job.
Why writing this article then? Because, if you are, like me, employed in a small or medium-sized business/agency/startup, you will try this costume on one day or another. A project can be entrusted to you. Or maybe you’ll wake up at 3 a.m. with an absolutely brilliant project idea, but you wouldn’t know how to put together a strong case to get your boss to give you the green light. If so, I can tell you, it pays to be prepared and have the right tools in hand to manage the team and most importantly – manage the project.
What matters, in the end, in the job of a project manager is the ability to adapt and know how to navigate in order to be able to adjust to the slightest change of direction or priority. Because it is not uncommon for a project to slip away or deviate from where you initially imagined it and, in these cases, you have to know how to use your nerves of steel to be able to stay the course.
Here I will talk about design projects in the broad sense. Whether it is a digital project, a web project, an audiovisual project, a product, or a graphic design project, the approach remains the same. Only the duration, the number of people involved and the workload will vary from one type of project to another.
How to succeed in a project?
I would like to share my method with anyone looking to be reassured on the net of the subject because I love doing this myself and it helps me a lot.
Here are the 5 questions to ask yourself before starting any project:
Define the objectives of the project. For what purpose will the available resources and the working time of each person be mobilized? It’s that stupid. Why this project exactly? Why now? What will it bring to your customers and more importantly what will it bring to your business?
Basically, does it have a purpose?
2. For whom?
Find a target. No, we cannot address everyone. Especially in an era where everything is tailor-made, personalized, and adjusted according to individual needs and desires. Take it wide. But know how to tighten the circle of your target to find the heart of the target.
Example: The target audience of a clothing brand is 25–35 years old. For a video project, it will only be aimed at young adults over the age of 26 who no longer have benefits under the age of 26 (such as discounts at museums, cinemas, etc.). It will try to retain them with a light but controlled tone, by offering them a loyalty program with privileged discounts.
Determine the tone. Once we have figured out the “why” and “for whom” let’s now tackle the “how”.
How do you reach a target audience? You have to put yourself in their place, of course! Empathy is the key to success in any project. And it takes a lot of work to study the field and understand the needs, desires, and tastes of users.
The easiest way is to address the target directly. Go meet your customers, do surveys, and most importantly, meet real people. When talking with them, we often have a click that allows us to move forward. So listen up 🙂
4. How to organize your ideas?
Start a specification. At this stage of the project, we still have insufficient information to finalize the comprehensive specifications. The specifications must be built as the team progresses on the merits of the project.
Example: for a website redesign project, it would first be necessary to define the “skeleton” of the site (its tree structure), closely review each page and make links between them, while remaining consistent throughout. While in a graphic design project, for example, you should focus on the visual impact and the prioritization of the elements to be highlighted above all.
The specifications must include all the essential elements designed and planned by the team. It will be your guide and your best friend throughout the project, constantly reminding you of the course to take.
5. How to save time during production?
Have a clear graphic charter. I would say that in 90% of cases, a design project takes you at least two months. And when you keep your nose in it, it is sometimes difficult to remember what has been planned or already done. The specifications will remind you of the substance. However, the shape must also be taken into account. A clear and precise graphic charter will help you win some time for your designs and allow you to focus on the essentials.
To sum up
And there you have it, with these 5 points you can start a project. It is essential to group them in a handy folder. Knowing where we are heading motivates the troops, adds value, gives more confidence in your project, and makes your daily work easier.
Before I finish this article, I would like to warn you anyway. Here are some points to consider in a project:
I. It is never frozen
When you start a project, you have more or less a clear idea of what you would like it to be. In some cases, that’s what motivates us to start it. But it is absolutely useless to get so attached and persist in sticking with the original idea, even if it means creating conflict within the team. For the peace of mind and mental health of each member of the team, we should learn to accept the fact that projects know how to evolve on their own and the only problem, in this case, is to channel this evolution. and turn it to his advantage.
II. What is good for us is not necessarily good for the project
Throughout the realization of a project, we sometimes have doubts. What tone to adapt? What format to take? How to get users to buy into the concept of the project? We are all built from our own experiences. As I said before, projects evolve. But users and uses are evolving even more. So what worked in a project yesterday will not necessarily work in a project tomorrow. Think about it. Question everything. Without exception.
III. The team should be above everything
Exchanges in the team must be done on a healthy basis. Avoid innuendo, unspoken, private jokes during your meetings. It is important that at the end of each meeting/brief everyone knows where the project is right now and what everyone needs to do to move it forward. Define clear and precise objectives for each round table and above all ask everyone’s opinion. This is how to step by step we manage to achieve the desired objectives.