Like most things these days, project management has gone online. Using a website to track a project is great because it makes it easy to collaborate with people in different locations. In this video, Richard Harrington discusses things to consider when deciding whether or not to use online project management tools.
- There's a lot of benefits to collaborating with others online. Now, of course, you need to make sure that the system you choose is secure, but when done right people will feel comfortable and this will foster open communication. This will allow team members and clients to interact or team members to interact with each other. Now, ideally this will help you save time. It can also help you save quite a bit of money by fostering that communication with people and cut down time on things like review time and shipping.
If done correctly, it'll reduce the stress that people feel because they'll have a better idea of where things are at, and it can reduce risk because people are talking more frequently. Also, this can help you better meet contractual obligations. With online collaboration the client has a better idea of the work being performed. Thing's seem to move faster, mistakes can be caught more quickly, or perhaps before they're released to the general public. By increasing the frequency of communication essentially removing barriers between one office and another, things can go much more smoothly, and it can also help you insure accurate billing.
By having a log of all of the change orders in the communication back and forth, it's a lot easier to make sure that new items aren't forgotten when it comes time to invoice them. This is also great because it creates historical data. This will allow you to go back, review the information from one project, and then dig back through it as you formulate a new plan for an upcoming project. The general reasons here to use online collaboration include the fact that it will speed up the process. Faster to deliver means less time spent, less waiting, you can get more projects done faster.
You can also deliver something to multiple people simultaneously. If you deliver a digital copy to review, people don't have to wait to ship things around from one office to another, or to deal with delays in delivery as a courier gets lost. This also allows for a more scalable infrastructure. It means if you have to add virtual people to the team, or if you have people working in multiple locations, they can appear to be more collaborative and hopefully actually be more collaborative because they're working in the same virtual environment.
Also, it's important that if you have a review system that it can scale up, that it can support multiple reviewers, comment tracking, version controls. I mentioned tools like Wipster and Frame.io. These are particularly useful for the video production industry, but photographers can also use online reviews to track feedback. There's a wide range of tools out there for graphic designers, as well, that allow you to upload graphic files, or PDF's, and collaborate with clients with notes and interactivity.
However, there are some reasons not to use online collaboration tools. First up, it involves learning a new language, and new skills. If you're on a quick turn around project or you're dealing with a client or a vendor that's not tech savvy it can actually introduce a tremendous amount of stress. You can't assume that everybody is comfortable using Dropbox and jumping into a private chat room, or wants email from another source. You might have to go back to traditional methods like existing emails and phones.
Not all people are comfortable collaborating with Google Docs or the security of online systems so you might need to provide some assurances of the privacy or go back to other more secure methods. Potentially this will also require an investment . You're going to see that some of these online tools cost money, therefore, you have to plan for them in your general overhead. With digital tools you can also have a higher rate of failure. There's something reassuring in the old days of sending somebody something physical that they received and opened or put a tape in a machine and watched it.
I have to tell you how many times we're dealing with, I can't open this file, or I don't have the right software, or my IT department won't let me install this plugin. Don't assume that everything is perfect in the digital age. I strongly recommend doing some test runs early on. Before you need to do collaboration online start the client right away. Show them the system, host some sample files, make sure that their bandwidth and their firewall let's them access the files that you're expecting. You're going to want to work through these bugs before you're on a deadline feeling pressure.
Different operating systems, different corporate environments, different clients will have different setup needs. Maybe you're dealing with somebody who only has access through a tablet or a mobile phone. Can they participate? Is there a native app? Do they have the bandwidth? Can they review 4K video or open up that Adobe file that you posted? Or do you need to roll back to lower compressions, smaller files, or maybe using something like PDF instead of a proprietary Photoshop file. Make sure that you can exchange information and that the client can properly receive it.
Otherwise, you're jus going to add more problems. Don't forget that it takes time to download things, it takes time to upload things. Probably takes less time than a courier, but it's not instant. In the days of just sending off a quick email or pushing a text message we sometimes forget that uploading large media files can take time. Make sure that you budget for that time including the encoding, the compressing, the upload, and the download. It's not instantaneous.
It's a lot faster, but don't push things to the last minute with deadlines.
- 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