Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding your capabilities, part of Project Management for Creative Projects.
Here's a simple idea, if you want to manage something, you need to actually understand it first. Now, you might think you know your business, but chances are you might not. As you start to dig deeper, you'll realize that there's large components that you rely on other people for. Maybe you don't understand the editing process for taking photos and getting them developed and ready for the customer or the printing process when you submit prints online and then get them back. Maybe you don't edit video, but you're in full service video production.
This doesn't mean that I want you to become a jack of all trades and master of none. What it does mean is you need to take the time to understand the services that you sell, and what constraints those services are offered under. The first thing you do is take a look at your overall capabilities. I generally start with the internal capabilities. What are the things that we could do internally at my company? Internal capabilities are the easiest to manage. They are the easiest to control, they are easiest to make money on.
However, you don't want to bloat the size of you company by taking on too many resources, particularly if those resources are not going to be used on a regular basis. This is why we often have external capabilities, trusted vendors, freelancers, crew that we regularly hire, these are people you know you can count on and they get the job done, but ideally you still want to understand who they are, why they charge what they charge and what they are good at. A lot of times your external vendors will also have additional skills.
For example, people regularly pigeonhole what my capabilities are. They may think of my company for graphics or using our studio. They may not realize that we offer time-lapse services, or panoramic photography and interactive tours. Other people see me as the Photoshop guy and they have no idea that I'm a well-rounded individual with lots of different skills. What you want to be looking at is what your vendor can do for you and what else they might be able to do that you didn't think of. This leads to the make-versus-buy decision.
You will need to determine what you do internally, what you create, what you make using other partners, but still ultimately control in-house versus what you buy by sending it out of house. For example, many people do not replicate their own DVDs or Blu-ray discs. They'll build it, they'll make one and then send it off for lots of copies to be made just like a lot of photographers don't have in-house printing presses.
When they need books, or they need prints, they'll likely send it to a lab or service. Now, choosing the right service, knowing the timeline, and how to properly work with that vendor is critical, and this is where the make-versus-buy decision comes into play. Sometimes you'll make decisions about who is local versus who you know you could trust. It's not always about finding the cheapest price. Over time, you want to scale. You need to start analyzing what services you could do internally, so you can go ahead and maximize profitability.
The more you do in-house, generally speaking, the better control you have and the more profitable it is. But you're going to want to make those decisions gradually and make sure that it's a good investment for your company. Building slowly will ensure this. Ultimately, we want to achieve competitive advantages, and this is where our skills come into play. You're going to want to make sure that the services you offer that some of them are unique. You'll also need to be able to describe those services and how they differ from other people in your competitive market.
Remember, perception is important, so some services you'll need to offer because it's expected of you. For example, if a photographer said, "Oh, I just don't do prints", many people wouldn't hire that photographer, even though that photographer has no interest in printing photos, but they do need a good lab to do the printing for them. There are a lot of people who shoot video and do full-service video who never want to edit or make a motion graphic. But if they turn that part of the job down, the client may go looking elsewhere.
It becomes very important that you have a complete package, and you understand what's internal, and what's external, and that all of the tasks along that critical path can be done ultimately by your company or at least be perceived as being done by your company. This is all about positioning your company and the team members that you put on your team. Remember, when it comes to business, perception is very important. And you need the perception of being in control and making sure that the project is moving towards the end goal.
Project management is all about keeping the eye on the scope of work, the quality of work, the budget, the timeline, all of these things must be balanced. It's important that you are seen as a strong leader and someone who can be counted on.
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