How to Use Agile Project Management to Streamline Design Projects & Keep Your Clients Happy




  • — July 31, 2019

    Taking on new and exciting design projects and creating the perfect end product is what all designers get a kick out of. However, despite your best intentions, it is easy to say ‘yes’ to too many tasks which can end up negatively affecting your projects.

    Whether you’re a designer yourself or a marketing consultant like myself project managing design work for a client, if you don’t have the right process in place when managing your projects you’re going to run into a lot of trouble very quickly. Especially when you’re consulting on several projects at once working with different teams, things can get out of hand very quickly, resulting in sub-par work and unhappy clients.

    Managing multiple design projects without a clear and streamlined project management system can be the difference between a successful project and one that is over budget, overdue, and fails to meet your client’s expectations.

    So let’s talk about Agile and how it helps.

    What is agile project management?

    Agile project management is a methodology that allows project managers working in various industries to plan, manage, and streamline small and large tasks to ensure the project runs smoothly. The effectiveness of a project manager is measured by their ability to plan, manage time, assess risk and negotiate, skills that are assisted by adopting an Agile methodology.

    Marketers that use this framework are able to identify inefficiencies that may be slowing a project down and can help to identify and respond to mistakes and other issues that more traditional project management techniques may miss.

    The Agile methodology paints a clear picture that helps a project’s team to understand the progress of that project. The Agile visual framework helps individuals understand the stages and phases of a project, and crucially, helps to identify which tasks are a priority and which are just distractions.

    This approach will also help you to overcome various common challenges faced by most design teams.

    5 common challenges designers face when working on a project

    With any project that involves working with a client, ensuring the project has clear deadlines, expectations and other project parameters is essential for a successful outcome.

    Here are 5 extremely common challenges most design teams encounter when working on a design project:

    1. Saying ‘Yes’ to every project

    It’s easy to accept every project that comes your way but you have to consider whether or not you have the resources available to complete multiple tasks and meet all of their deadlines.

    It’s far better for you and your client if you’re honest from the beginning, rather than letting them down later on.

    If you’re too busy to take on another project, tell the client. If you feel you won’t be able to meet the client’s proposed deadline, tell them.

    By incorporating the Agile framework into design projects, project managers can easily see the resources they have available and whether or not they have the capacity to take on other projects without endangering other project deadlines.

    2. Starting a project without all the necessary information

    One extremely common challenge faced by project designers is not having all the key information at the start of the project. If information is drip-fed throughout the project it can make identifying the next stage very difficult.

    It’s better to have everything available and all relevant material at hand at the beginning of the project so the project manager can create an accurate plan as to how to proceed.

    3. Working with indecisive clients

    We’ve all been there. We’ve all worked with clients who don’t really know what they want or can’t quite communicate what they want to achieve. The idea of getting paid over and over again by a client that doesn’t really know what they want might sound like the ideal scenario at first, but it very rarely works out that way.

    No client is happy to continuously throw money into a design project if they’re not sure what they are after, and for a design team, working on the same task for an unnecessarily long period of time can get old very quickly.

    It’s imperative that the design project manager asks the right questions and truly understands what the client needs for the project to be a success. There needs to be a clear direction and a clear plan set in place that the client and project manager can work towards.

    4. Continuous design revisions

    This is an extremely common challenge faced by designers on projects both big and small.

    So much time can be wasted amending tiny details and ‘tweaking’ elements of a design before the big picture is anywhere near finished.

    Constant revisions can destroy your design team’s motivation for a project and it can be exhausting for your client. As the project manager, it’s important that it is made clear that there will be time towards the end of the project to make small tweaks to minor details such as fonts, positioning, and colour shades.

    A great way of reducing the number of revisions from your clients is by explaining your design. For example, “We placed this image here for greater impact” or “We made the logo this size for better design aesthetic” etc.

    5. Not dealing with a key decision-maker

    To streamline the design projects, it’s also important that the project manager or key stakeholders are dealing with key decision-makers. Ideally, this will be one member of the client’s team that knows the project.

    Frequent challenges that many design teams face are remarks from the client such as, “I’m not sure which mockup to choose”, “I don’t know what will work”, and “let me discuss this with my manager”. This is a sure sign that you are not dealing with a key decision-maker.

    Fast track your project and deal with the people that make the big calls, cut out the middleman and get the direction you need more efficiently.

    Adapt a better way to manage your design work

    The Agile management methodology not only helps project managers and design teams create a plan for a successful project, but it also helps clients to understand the project journey and helps them to fully understand what they want to achieve.

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    Author: Shayen de Silva

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