Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Defining the characteristics of a project, part of Practical Project Management for Creative Projects.
I'd like to take a quick look at some of the core words you'll hear used in project management and put them in context with the typical project. Every project you tackle for film or video will have some things in common. All of them have a purpose is it to deliver a 3-minute video that could be used for marketing by a company or to create a portrait of a newly engaged couple. In both cases there is a clear purpose and expectation of what's going to happen at the end of the project.
Projects are also temporary, it is not a project to stay in business, the marketing of your company is generally not a project rather something that goes on going. However, you may have specific projects that are short term, each client job may be a project and chances are there is a due date, and it has a temporary life. Every project is ultimately unique. This isn't to say that projects don't have lots of things in common and shooting one person's portrait is that much different than another but chances are there are some things that are different.
Different people to interface with, different people to build, different systems. What you want to be able to do is figure out what makes a project different because those are the areas that mistakes are most likely to happen in. Take a look at the resources you have is there anything that the client is going to be providing to you? For example, maybe a location for the shoot that you don't have to scout or pay for? What resources do you have internally? Is there any advancements in technology? Does the latest version of Adobe Photoshop or Premiere Pro make something much easier that you now want to integrate into your technical approach? Think about any cause or time constraints, are there things that have to get done within a certain budget or a certain time? In almost every case there are.
It is very rare that a project has an unlimited budget, as such, it's important that you know what you have to deal with so you can make the right decisions. As your looking at all of these things, there are several interdependencies. For example, I can't edit a video until I shoot the video, I can't shoot the video until we have a script. Well, sometimes people break that rule but usually they regret it. And you can't shoot until you have a location> All of these things have a critical path that has to be followed, and when you understand those steps you'll understand how to get the job done.
Now, sometimes you'll have to do things out of order. Maybe you have to pick the location even though you don't know the exact shooting date. So you have spare locations, or you have an indoor in an outdoor location because you don't know the time of day or the weather. In either case you still understand the general flow and how that impacts the decision making process. Other things to think about are the tasks that have to be done, this is where understanding all of the different areas becomes important.
Perhaps you don't edit video but you need to understand the video editing process so you know how much time it should take to put the project together. Maybe you don't do professional printing, you design the book but you send it elsewhere for manufacturing and shipping. You need to understand how much time it takes to get that done, and what are the decisions you could make to impact cost. For example, I learned very early on that certain size prints or layouts were much cheaper than others. It became important if there were financial constraints that I chose the right output option.
Similarly, its important when it comes to things like dubs, often times getting three copies made is about the same cost as 50. So, it becomes important that you properly estimate and look at all of the tasks involved with getting the job done. And another thing to realize is there is always conflict. You may not like conflict but ultimately your client's desires and your desires are rarely an exact match. The artistic endeavor that you'd like to accomplish, your concern for quality and lighting may be of no concern to the client or at least significantly less concerned.
That crazy thing that your client's seems to be obsessing on, might be tide to the feedback that they got from there boss or the CEO of the company. What you need to realize is that your objectives and their objectives are never in perfect alignment. As such, you have to learn when to pick your battles and how to minimize conflict by being to listening, and making sure that you really only fight when necessary. Lastly is Risk, It wouldn't be a project if there wasn't risk, the whole reason you are hired is because the client didn't think they could do the job themselves.
They decided it was too risky and expensive to bring all of these services in-house. These days, most people could take out there cell phone and shoot a picture or a video. The reason why they called you is because it was too risky, they weren't going to get the right results that they needed and they didn't want to chance it. Now, that's not to say that the video made on a cell phone is anywhere near the video that you could take, and that Instagram should be putting many photographers out of business. What it does mean is that you have to realize that there is some risk and that the client is taking a risk by hiring you.
They are often risking their money, their reputation based on the confidence they have in you. When you learn to embrace these aspects of a project and recognize that all of them occur every time, it becomes a lot easier to spot potential problems and make smart decisions.
Covering topics like effectively matching your services offered with the project, estimating time, and communicating with clients, Rich shares insights from his many years as a business owner and creative professional.
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- Understanding the benefits of project management
- Investigating outsourcing and partnering opportunities
- Defining project objectives
- Understand the project life cycle
- Scoping the project
- Identifying key roles
- Estimating time
- Managing projects with tools like Facebook or Basecamp
- Building a control cycle
- Managing a team