Creative projects are much more likely to go well with a solid plan in place. Otherwise, they simply will not have the structure in place that makes them likely to be successful. Of course, everyone has a different approach to planning, but there are a few common elements that can prove to be useful in many different ways. Ultimately, having the right plan in place gives you a document that you can keep referring back to, as well as a clear idea of exactly where your project started and where it is going in the future. Below is the top tips for planning your next project.
Draw Up a Physical Plan
Many people think that the planning phase involves a simple discussion without a physical plan at the end of it all. However, it is much better that you are literal in your approach to coming up with a plan. For example, this guide can help you to come up with a clear design brief. As well as being useful to everybody who is involved in the project at large, it is also important to have something that you can hand over to your creative professional so that they know exactly what they need to achieve. In this way, everybody is on the same page – quite literally. There are a few key elements that make up a successfully project plan. First of all, you have the general overview of the project. Next, you have the strategy of what to do next, as well as the key milestones along the way. While you obviously want to have a clear end goal in mind, you also need the little steps along the way that are going to help you get there. You should also go through the process of assigning roles and responsibilities to everybody. This way, they know what they need to do. Of course, there is also the project budget that needs to be set. Doing this at the initial stage will make it less likely that you are going to overstretch yourself. Do not forget to set up the necessary communication channels as well.
Set Out Your Expectations in Advance
Just like any other type of project, it simply makes sense that your expectations are set out right from the start. This way, there can be no dispute about what is trying to be achieved from the project. Ultimately, it will be the job of the project manager to clarify this and make sure that everybody is on the right track. Again, it is going to help to set out these expectations clearly in writing. Otherwise, it is much more likely that there are going to be disputes along the way as people start to argue about who should be doing what and when. The expectations may be coming from your own organisation or they may be coming from an external client. If it is the latter, it needs to be clearly set out who is in charge of speaking to them and getting their feedback. It is better that there are little review stages along the way so that it can be set out how everything is going. After all, it is bound to be better to pick up any mistakes at the earliest possible opportunity rather than simply letting the project drag on indefinitely and ending up in a situation in which the whole thing needs to be thrown away and started all over again.
Make Your Deadlines Realistic
Creative projects take time and if they are rushed to a great extent, this is where it becomes much more likely that they are not going to be completed successfully. At the same time, you do not want work to stretch out indefinitely. There is certainly a balancing act between the two considerations. You also need to be realistic about whether a deadline is working in its current form or if it needs to be pushed back to a later date. Sometimes, this may involve some tough conversations with the client, but if they are reasonable and you have developed a good relationship with them in the first place, it is much more likely that these will go without a hitch. Also, it is essential that regular conversations are had with the creatives to work out how the project is developing and whether there is anything else that could speed it along even further.
Put Good Communication at the Heart of the Project
We mentioned establishing those communication channels right at the start, but making sure that they are actually used is obviously highly important. There is simply no point in getting into a situation in which people are not talking to one another as this can lead to the project not going well. If everything is starting to go off track, it is better to be able to talk about this rather than playing the blame game. It is even better if you are able to explain this to your clients right from the offset. The project management tools outlined in the sections above will also prove to be valuable when it comes to collaborating on projects in the most successful manner possible.
Allocate Some Room for Flexibility
When it comes to creative projects, it is often the case that they do not all flow into a regular 9-to-5 format. Therefore, building in a bit more room in for flexibility can prove to be valuable and will put you in a situation in which the creatives are kept happy and are able to do their work to the best of their abilities. Of course, all of this still needs to fit into the overall framework of deadlines. Achieving this successfully can be a difficult ask, but it is the responsibility of the project manager to ensure that it is done successfully.
Planning a creative project is made all the easier by taking all the above points into account and ensuring that each step of the process is completed properly.