4 Key Principles To Successfully Managing Large Design Projects

Managing a large design project requires an in-depth level of project management and efficient communication to keep it running smoothly. If you ask any marketeer, I’m sure they’ve had their fair share of horror stories with projects in the past, the usual culprits are website projects or branding projects. 

However, with an internal team of 25+ creatives across multiple disciplines across the UK, we’re in a position to highlight the key traits we’ve found from our clients who have successfully seen large projects through from start to finish, over and over again. We’ve found that the projects that run the smoothest seem to follow the same trends as each other, and those projects that become stressful, usually miss one of the key principles that we’ve highlighted below. 

If this is your first large design project or are looking to strengthen your skills, then you’ve come to the right place. 

Communication:

Our first key principle may seem like an obvious one, however, it’s imperative that the communication channels are discussed and agreed before taking on the project. When we say communication, we aren’t just talking about letting the Design team know when your project needs to be completed. We’re talking about structuring a communication plan throughout the project to ensure that deadlines are met, the project stays on track and everyone within the team is aware of any updates or changes to the project. 

Depending on the turnaround time for the project, we advise weekly meetings at the start of every week (Monday at 10 is usually a good time), this gives everyone involved the opportunity to highlight the plan for the week ahead and allows you to set deadlines and ask any questions you may have. This meeting avoids any wasted time with emails or meetings throughout the week, it allows the whole team to know what their role is within the project for that week and most of all, it gives you peace of mind that you are heading in the right direction. 

We also suggest setting up a clear communication channel for the whole team, we suggest using Slack (or another similar tool). This will allow you to create a group for the project and then also set up sub groups if required.

Workflow/Project Management Tool:

A workflow or project management tool is essential for managing a large Design project. The workflow tool will allow you to break your project into a timeline, allow your Design team to upload proofs and communicate with you directly on the platform, have the full Design team on the same board and even have a mobile app (for when you’re really busy). 

If you’re new to a workflow tool, they can seem daunting at first and it will take some getting used to, however, believe us when we say, it will be worth it. Infact as an Agency, we ensure every client we work with has some form of workflow tool in place before working with us.

There are a number of workflow tools out there on the market, all with slightly different features and it will take a little researching before deciding on the right one for you. We’ve highlighted a few tools below we’ve used in the past, however, we suggest researching all of these and exploring which features are right for you:

  • Trello
  • Asana
  • Monday.com
  • Toggl
  • Base Camp
  • Gruup

Get Support & Delegate:

If you have experience in managing a large Design project, then you’ll know that it is almost a full-time job. The project will take a large amount of your time, even if you’re only overseeing the completion. No matter how much you plan, there will always be speed bumps along the way that will require your urgent attention. We suggest doing the following two things, in the same order:

  • Get Support
  • Delegate

Getting Support

It’s important to have support on the project with you where possible, even if it’s to act as a second pair of eyes on proofing, it will be a huge complimenting factor in the outcome of the project. Often, when the project is lengthy, you can become stuck in your own process and may miss something key. If you’re part of a marketing team, it’s important to have one project manager as opposed to multiple. 

Delegation

If you’ve managed a large Design project before, you’ll know how easy it is to get dragged into the project and take on some of the work yourself. However, with efficient management, planning and delegation, you will be able to stop this from happening from day one and free up your time to manage the full project, as opposed to just a small section. 

Recognise and Celebrate Your Designers:

One thing we always try to promote with our clients is to show appreciation and recognise your Designers good work, no matter how big or small the work is. Regularly celebrating wins will empower your Design team and keep everyone on the project motivated and aligned to the end goal. 

Whether it’s a private message to the individual, a more public call out (perhaps on your weekly calls) or even sending a thank you/gift card. This small act of recognition goes a long way for boosting your Designers confidence and it will improve the chances of your Designer going above and beyond for you when the time comes.

Final Words

Whether you’re new to managing Design projects or just looking for tips and advice, if you put in place the above 4 principles, teamed with the right Design team then you’re giving your project everything it needs to succeed.

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