The Secret to Managing a Successful Design Project

by | Oct 23, 2014

When hiring a freelance designer — whether it’s to design a new logo, company brochure, or website — the singe most important factor to successfully completing a project within the estimated time and cost, is a communication.

And don’t let the term “designer” throw you. This is also true when working with freelance marketing professionals, directors, social media consultants, website designers, etc.

Pawn on chess board

Business Owners Aren’t Designers

The majority of business owners aren’t designers, so it’s understandable they don’t understand print production, technical jargon, how a designer thinks, or the best process for completing a project.

This leads the designer to spending a lot of time educating the client, clarifying project details, managing expectations, and performing multiple revisions not included in the original project scope. This time (money) is either never recouped by the designer or the additional time (also known as “project creep”) is added onto the final project costs.

It’s a lose/lose scenario.

Here’s how to win.

The secret to managing a successful design or marketing project is easier then you think.

What business owners do understand is that they have a set budget and need to get from point A to point B as quickly and cost effectively as possible. And one of the best ways to accomplish that is to hire a project manager.

A good project manager is a seasoned professional who fluently speaks both “business” and “design”. And before you ask, yes, they’re both languages.

A project manager understands how to;

  • Locate the best talent for the specific project.
  • Negotiate project fees with designers.
  • Manage relationships and expectations within a project between the client and team members.
  • Keep team members focused on the same goal.
  • Keep track of deadlines and schedules.
  • Lead the project to completion while meeting agreed upon objectives.

In short, the project manager oversee a project from inception to completion. The end result should be a smooth running project that meets the defined goals – within budget.

This allows the business owner to save time, money, and to focus on what they do best — managing and growing their business.

As a long time designer myself, I’ve had my share of crazy impossible projects. Nightmare projects. The stuff that insane Halloween horror movies are made of. Okay, maybe not that bad, but pretty bad.

But I’ve also had my fair share of working on some of the best projects ever. And the one thing all of the “best” projects had in common? You guessed it, an experienced project manager was running the show.

What are your thoughts?

As a business owner, how do you feel about wearing multiple hats? What’s the primary difficulty you face while trying to manage design projects?

On the flip side, as a designer or marketing professional, I’d love to hear your insights into what has made projects you’ve worked on so successful.

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