There are many moving pieces to every project you complete as a creative or entrepreneur, and project management becomes a necessity. No matter how much importance you like giving to creativity, you’ll need to establish project management procedures to be successful. I for one have creative preferences. After working in project management for many years, staying organized, predicting snags along the way, and making sure I’m managing expectations with myself, clients, and team members has allowed me to get to spend most of my energy on the creative aspects of each project. Keeping this criterion helped me complete each project successfully and it’s also made each project less stressful even when deadlines were not being met or materials were missing. How exactly do you get to an organized place before starting each project? Check out five simple tips that should always be on your project checklist.
5 Project Management Tips For Beginners
- Timeline. Each project comes with a task list. Write every detail down and incorporate check-ins with your client, changes that might come up, and grace periods for yourself. Convert that into a timeline and add a deadline for each step. Yes, each one! Mark who is responsible for each step and make no assumptions! You can create this timeline on a task management app, a calendar, or good ol’ excel. This timeline will help you see the big picture and keep you on task. Should anything go wrong you’ll have a better chance of identifying where things went wrong and what to watch out for in the future. Send your client this timeline and ask for them to check off on it before you begin work. This way you will identify conflicting dates, the client will feel secure, and if they neglect one of the items you can always remind them they agreed to this structure. Brownie point for you!
- Gather Your Materials. Get that updated logo, company summary, bio, or approval on a vision board. Gather it all those materials, check the list twice (this should have a deadline on your timeline as well), and let your client know if anything is missing. From there you can communicate how this will affect the timeliness of the project deadline.
- Communication. Communicate everything. If your client likes to talk over the phone, take notes and send a recap of the call via email. Mark in bold any changes that were agreed on. In that same email ask them to confirm that they received and read that email. This will be your golden ticket should anything go wrong later. If you see that something is not turning out the way you had planned or a deadline was missed, make sure to alert your client and also share the steps you are taking (or the steps they need to take) to get back on track. Tempers flare when someone feels blindsided or cheated on the promises made.
- Templates. Templates will save you a lot of time. Create a general timeline and email structures communicating the important steps of each project. Anything that you already know you use for each project can be turned into a template. Templates can be customized to fit your current needs, but the bulk of creating each of these will already be done! Having a set process in place is also be a selling point for prospective clients.
- Review. Finally, check your work! Your completed project should look perfect. Have a second set of eyes review it too. If you catch your mistakes before your client does you maintain a good record.