Have you ever watched an orchestra live or on television? I’m sure you have. Noticed the guy holding the baton and making weird, contorted hand gestures? That guy is called a conductor or a maestro, and he is incredibly vital in the group. Wondering what he is doing there since he doesn't even play an instrument? Well he is guy who holds the team of musician together and epitomizes leadership and collaboration. Many may argue, that his role is insignificant in an orchestra, but the truth is without him the symphony will be shambles. Project Managers are the maestros in a design studio.
Although clients pay for creativity, they also count on having the finished product on time, and unfortunately missed deadlines can give a bad name to a business which can spread like wildfire. When designers are deeply immersed into the creative process, at times they might find it difficult to maintain logistics such as, coordination, budgeting, management, costing and other variables which are equally crucial to the project. This not only leads to stress, frustration, and conflict within the team, it also leads to dissatisfied clients; and after all, there is no one, who enjoys futile creative chaos.
So what does a Project Manager do?
As the name suggests, Project managers (PM) are the owners of a project and manages them from initiation, client onboarding, to sign off. However, things are a tad different in a design studio, in fact, it’s a whole different ballgame here. In a design studio or agency, we are dealing in inspiration and ideas that is extremely subjective unlike the manufacturing or IT world where the results are far more tangible and the path to point A to B is well defined.
They don several hats
In a design studio, PM’s are mentors, motivators and taskmasters. They often indulge in a good amount of coaching, complementing, and in some cases, plain old coercion is required to get the job done. They support the creators throughout the creative process, making sure that every project sees the light of the day while maintaining a healthy client relationship all through, which often leads to repeat customers.
PM’s take a lot on their own shoulders to enable all the complicated aspects of a project run like clockwork. They cascade messaging to the right teams, turn a project into actionable steps for teams to tackle, solve misunderstandings, explain all the issues to all the sides of the process, and sometimes they even stop the creator when they stray too far. They are on top of every minute details and parts of the process, to work like the conductors controlling the orchestra at every single tune to perform the successful and satisfying result. Yes, they are project managers.
They are strategic leaders
A project manager maintains a clear vision for the course and goals throughout the project. They keep a close eye on the big picture from day one and effectively lead the project's strategy as well. Just how designers get lost in their craft, clients often get sidetracked with seductive layouts. PM’s then pulls things into perspective and set out to create a workflow which is achievable.
Furthermore, PM ’s holds the project’s objectives through documentation of the creative process, which can take many forms. Concepts are developed in many ways, but there is always a source: It can be a client interview, a workshop, industry research or an informal jam session about what the team/designers are trying to achieve. This documentation help demonstrate the thinking behind the big ideas without handicapping the designers to document their process every step of the way.
They put out the metaphorical fires
Creative folks tend to approach things differently, and in a design studio, a project manager’s job is downright demanding, hectic and at times disorienting to say the least, and it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. To avoid agitated clients and a struggling creative business, their job involves lots of scheduling, sticking to a budget and planning for your team’s availability. Essentially, project management leads to more relaxed designers and developers who know their workflows and task-sheet, and also, happy clients who are pleased with both the product and the process, which relies on feedback and communication along the way.
Project managers and project coordinators are the unsung heroes of a design studio, working always behind the scenes, looking after a project well before from start to finish. Today, with this blog we would like to give a
"Huge shout out to all Project managers of Lollypop and give these masters of organisation, diplomacy and juggling, a chance to stand under the limelight."
Furthermore, through our blogs we would like to give our readers better insights on what they do, how they do it and why these roles are inherently vital and creative. And here is to our heroes.
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