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Design Project Management Tips in 2022

design project management tips

Understanding how to manage a design project is a key skill that determines, in our opinion, the overall success of your work. Yes, designing is the fun part, but without proper design project management, things can become disjointed, lose direction, or fall flat on quality.

And we know you don’t want that.

Managing any level of design project comes with its challenges, especially in today’s landscape with so many working remotely across multiple time zones. So what’s the best way to tackle a new project?

Here at Design Force, and in our big sister company, 500 Designs, we’ve faced many of the struggles you’ll likely encounter when managing a design team. But thankfully, we’ve found ways to manage our remote teams efficiently and effectively in a way that promotes creative empowerment, so that we can guarantee high-quality work on time. 

So that you can manage your design projects effectively and with ease, here are our best tips and tricks.

Before you start your design project: Plan, plan and plan some more

As a small enterprise or agency, wowing your customers and clients with showstopping design work is the top priority, right? Effective design project management is key to making sure this happens.

We suggest starting with a framework for the project as a whole, establishing the deliverables required, and when. Things to consider when mapping this out include:

  • The exact design deliverables needed (e.g., social media graphics, banner ads, illustrations etc.), including the deadlines
  • The specific designers you need to work on each element of the project. Consider the unique skills required – Do you need a designer that specialises in UX design, for example?
  • Where your designers and involved team members are based. This will affect the way in which you communicate as you go through the project.
  • The relationship between the project manager and the design team. What are the sign off requirements? 
  • Your communication tool. Will this be via cloud-based software or email?
  • Potential changes in project scope or deadlines. Have you determined exactly what is not required as well as what is?
  • The budget. Do you have the capacity to fulfil the brief to a high standard with the budget you have?

Determine one central location to manage the entire project from start to finish. For us, we use tools like Monday.com to keep everyone involved up to date and ask that anyone that is working on a project keeps their progress logged, too. 

Communicate your framework

Once you’ve completed the planning phase, it’s vital that all team members, designers and project managers are aware of the scope of the project and the individual deadlines. 

As the overseer, it’s your role to ensure that each cog of the project machine is running smoothly, so check-ins can be useful here. We’ll add that check-ins don’t mean micro-managing, though. In order to execute a strong design project, it’s important that each member of the team feels valued and able to use their skills effectively. After all, that’s why they were hired, right?

Check-ins mean communicating with your team to assess how they are getting on and adapt to any necessary changes as and when they arise. You don’t want to find out the day before a deadline that one of your designers has been unable to start yet due to their existing workload. Open communication means you can reassign, stay organised, and eliminate burnout from overworked designers.

If your teams are working remotely, it’s not possible to swing by someone’s desk to see if they need support. This is why choosing a central location for communication, like us with Monday.com, is so vital.

And if you do find that you don’t have the availability within your team to complete the work needed, don’t be afraid to outsource to meet the demand. If this happens, our designers can be on hand in less than a day, so if that sounds like something you need, learn more about how, here

Structure your teams efficiently

As your design project takes shape, the way that you structure your team becomes all the more important. 

For us at Design Force, we like to think of team structure in two ways: formal and informal. Both require all parties to understand the hierarchy, but each differs in its approach. 

To support agencies and small enterprises like you in building efficient and exciting remote teams, we’ve written an in-depth ebook that’s available to download for free. In it, we dive deep into the many challenges businesses face when working in a remote environment and share the ways in which we’ve overcome them so that you can too. 

We share how we structure our teams and communicate across four time zones, so if you’re interested in learning more about that, head here to download it.

Let the designers design! 

Of course, throughout all of the planning and communication, comes the design work itself. 

If you’ve planned appropriately and assigned the right designers to the right deliverables, this part should be a breeze. But again, communication is vital, so that if something goes off track or the brief isn’t quite being met, you can react and adapt before a deadline is missed.

Once the designs are refined and completed, make sure that all work is presented in the correct format, and in the way you’ve determined from the outset. 

And of course, thank your brilliant teams for their brilliant work! It’s nice to be nice.

Deliver, assess, refine

You can relax now, the bulk of the work is done. And with an efficient project management system in place, your project will be delivered on time and to the best standard possible. 

But before you put your feet up and completely relax, it’s important to reflect and assess the project as a whole.

Ask yourself and your teams:

What went well?

What didn’t go so well?

Were any deadlines difficult to meet? Why?

Were there any changes to the project that were unexpected? Why did that happen?

Use the information to make your next design project even better.

Feeling ready to take on your next showstopping design project? Make sure to download our free ebook How to Run a Remote Team Like a Pro if you’re working with team members in multiple locations. 

And if you need more hands-on-deck to deliver to tight turnarounds, work with Design Force today to see how you can access our world-class designers in just one day.

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