The 7 Necessary Skills for Creative Project Manager

frwferfetwProject managers are in high demand, given their advanced skillset and pressure handling abilities. These multi-tasking professionals are proactive, agile and extremely creative when dealing with multi-dimensional teams. Indeed, project managers are nothing short of project heroes! When a customer hands over a project task, from the task inception to delivery, the project manager nurtures the project by sticking to timelines and strict budget. One great skills acquired by a creative project manager is the “lesson learnt” guideline they have developed over the years. This lessons learnt approach enables the project manager to take timely and efficient decisions. What other skills do you think a creative project manager should have? Plenty! In this article, we discuss the creative skills within the main project management steps during the lifetime of a project.

In the current tech-based business environment we have organizations with increasingly complex project requirements. Project management approaches now need to be more flexible, accessible and sophisticated. Let’s look at the main chronological steps of a project management life cycle. We will also discuss the creative input of a project manager that helps complete the step successfully.

Here are real-life project management steps that need to be executed in the order as mentioned. Think about what actions a project manager can take to improve the flow of the step.

1. Planning

Create a schedule of deliverables and people responsible as the first step of your project management. Use a spreadsheet software such as Excel or a simple project management software to create columns for Stages, Item, Activity, Owner, and Due-date. Do not begin the project until you get a signoff from the client and stakeholders as it helps in minimizing or eliminating confusions. Next, plan the preparatory tasks before you can begin the project. Determine any IT constraints with the client, any multimedia restrictions, any content specifications, availability of SME from the client side.

Creative Action of a Project Manager:

Create a cloud-based collaboration environment. Add key stakeholders including the client and the star team members. Have them introduce themselves in the online environment. This introduction can be video, audio, image or text based. The goal is to have everyone “meet-up” and warm up before the project begins. This initial kick-off is very important to help members contribute regularly and respond as needed.

2. Content Gathering

This is a research intensive stage. In this stage, you gather content, determine content gaps and fill those gaps with further research. Align the content with the project goals. Discuss preliminary activities for each goal to create action steps. Gather images, logo, template design, color scheme and typography for the project. Share your findings with the client. Have them select some elements to give them more control over their project. Sign off before the next stage!

Creative Action of a Project Manager:

Lock all multimedia and reference file signed off by the client. Inform all team members to use the files for reference only. Create universal design guidelines for all members to follow. Request team members to post their findings too and hold a discussion session to brainstorm more content ideas.

3. Project Design

Now that you have the project goals and idea for the content and the activities of the performance goals, it’s now time to determine the project implementation strategy. Consult the client and give them several choices for output. Create a Design Document that demonstrates the different strategies in detail. This includes the content, the multimedia and the related elements. This becomes the blueprint of your project.

Creative Action of a Project Manager:

Rapid prototyping tools are available and can be used for screenshots. Sharing a prototype that looks good as real is a great way to gain client trust and reassurance. Seek client feedback and share this feedback with team members on the team collaboration platform to ensure everyone is on the same page.

4. Storyboarding

Several storyboard templates are available. They enable you to arrange the project elements scene by scene and show the client what to expect from the project. In the storyboard, you include screen and layout designs for the project. Sign off the storyboard before you develop the project!

Creative Action of a Project Manager:

The signed off storyboard needs to be shared and studied by the team. A debriefing discussion will be great at this point to ensure no more changes are necessary at this point of the project.

5. Development and Production

This stage involves using a rapid prototyping tool to create a graphic user interface for your course. This tool will give the client a very close look and feel of the entire project. Give them a few choices and color schemes to choose from. Determine the graphics, photos, characters and animation and get them approved by the client. Once you have the green light on all designs and assets, go ahead and develop the prototype.

Creative Action of a Project Manager:

Let the client “play around” with the prototype. Any changes at this point will seal the remainder of the project. Changes at this point rarely extend towards the final roll out stage. So take this stage very seriously!

6. Quality Assurance

Any software or IT related project is delivered in two versions: The Alpha and the Beta versions. Stakeholders and clients run through the project and suggest changes on the Alpha version. These changes are reflected on the Beta version.

Creative Action of a Project Manager:

Get end users to provide real feedback. This is known as summative evaluation. It is critical to receive an accurate evaluation at this point. This will help create a product that is popular with the final users. Use a quality assurance evaluation checklist to evaluate the project output. Have all team members individually evaluate the same way. Compare their results with yours. This helps uncover all problem areas of the project from multiple perspectives.

7. Integration and Delivery

The course can be integrated into the existing online platform or it could be provided as a standalone CD.

Creative Action of a Project Manager:

Write a reflections log for how you handled the project. What went wrong and how could you have done things differently. Also, update the “lessons learnt” list for future reference. Hold a meeting with team members to hear out their feelings and expectations of the project. If a new technology or application was utilized in this project, make note of that too. Now is also a great time to assess the strengths and weakness of the team members. Is there a gap in their performance? Do they need any training? If yes, then use the downtime between two projects for professional development.

Managing an eLearning project can be complex. It can be made simpler by using project management scheduling and tools. Dividing your project into seven segments is also a best practice that leads to success.

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