Project Management for Designers is intended for students who would like a broad exposure to the field of Design, with a specific interest in administration and management. This curriculum investigates the practical, business side of design: getting organized and staying on-track through timeline projections, cost estimates and workflow charts in order to ensure success and profitability. Students will study the essential paperwork – estimates, memos, model releases, change orders and contact reports – and will look at contracts and copyright issues, and when to get legal and accounting assistance. Students will also learn the principles of research, and its important role in the work of a designer. From working in a small to mid-size design studio, to more independent roles, students will gain important skills in both understanding the context and needs of designers and the field broadly, and strategies for developing administrative processes that support these practices.
The program is intended for students who already have foundational training in Design, and who are looking to move into a design field in an administrative capacity, or for designers who are interested in gaining valuable management knowledge. On completion of the modules, students will understand the principles of how to make a business work cleanly and efficiently, how to manage yourself and your workflow, and how to ensure client relationships are productive and clear.
Session 1: Where We Begin
This session will introduce the basics of project management for designers: how it works, and how it can optimize workflow, time management, growth and general sanity. We will discuss both the practice and practical skills of effective project management.
Session 2: Before A Project Starts - Part I
This session will focus on how to gather information at the beginning of a project to understand the clients’ needs and create accurate (and inaccurate!) estimates.
Session 3: Before A Project Starts - Part II
This session will focus on how to create a contract that solidifies an agreement with the client, including expectations, estimates, signing, and how to handle red flags or other situations that may arise.
Session 4: The Project Begins
This session will focus on how to ensure a project runs smoothly from the beginning, through the use of meetings, timelines, milestones and deadlines, feedback and signoff processes - and how and when to adjust if the timeline changes.
Session 5: Client Relations: Pitfalls & Best Practices
This session gets into the nitty-gritty of working with a client: how to handle comps, work with difficult clients, listen effectively, follow up, and move a project forward. Also, Scope Creep! What is it, and how to work with it.
Session 6: Self-Management
This session will introduce tools and strategies for self-management. We will look at how to manage more than one project at a time while staying sane, keeping clients happy and never missing a deadline through effective time management, communication and billing.
Session 7: Bringing A Project To Launch
This session will look at how to bring a project towards successful completion. We’ll learn how to avoid issues before they arise through the use of milestone checks, quality assurance and beta testing, and how to handle issues such as client bottlenecks, project changes, and our own mistakes.
Session 8: Wrapping Up
This session will cover essential steps for ending a project well. We’ll learn how to launch the project, handle post-launch issues and press, how (and why) to do a postmortem, arrange final payment, keep the door open for future work, manage any upgrades, changes, retainer agreements or nasty surprises, and wrap up!