Smother me with tips & advice on managing design projects
July 16, 2014 8:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm an experienced product & "UX" designer who just started a new job (yay!) where the focus in the short term is managing design work done by external vendors & studios. I've done some of this before, but always small scale and usually in conjunction with a project manager who handled most of the time and team management stuff. I need your advice, tips, tools, and other lore on ways of managing design projects like these as I'm in a little over my head.

This job involves huge, multimillion projects with tons of moving parts and no project manager on my company's side. I guess what I'm looking for is a crash course in design project management. Are there any books or resources out there that could help me with things to think about & remember, process ideas and tips, etc.?

Also, are there any tools (web or otherwise) that would help make managing these types of large, complex projects easier? Some of the vendors I'm working with use Basecamp, and I'm using a combination of Trello and Workflowy for my own stuff, but I'm always interested in new tools that could help me do my job.
posted by theNonsuch to Technology (2 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
There are a ton of other project management apps out there, besides the ones you've mentioned, such as Asana, TeamBox, Redmine, Smartsheet, dotProject, Manti, ProofHub, Tender, AtTask, Insightly, etc. You just have to figure out which one works best for you and your clients.

It's important not only to have a good project management tool but also for everyone to discuss and agree on how you are actually going to use it.

I suggest you visit Stack Exchange's dedicated Project Management Q&A site to read existing answers and ask additional questions:
posted by Dansaman at 8:12 AM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you're working with people who are already using basecamp, keep using their instance of basecamp, because there is nothing worse than a client that won't use the system you have in place to manage your projects, as you might know from your past work.

It sounds to me like you are doing VENDOR management, not actual PROJECT management which is a different ball of wax. Are you responsible for them hitting hours? Or is this a fixed bid proejct and they have to manage hours on their side and you effectively do not care what they do as long as they bill you as agreed and they "show you the baby" at the end? If it's a fixed fee project and you're not making requests that increase scope, then they are responsible for managing hours and you really don't care. Additionally they should be providing you with detailed project plans and so on tailored to meet your company's needs as laid out in the RFP/SOW whatever the document of record is.

For yourself, you need a calendar of the milestones that they are expected to hit, and you need to document for yourself (esp if they are not) when things are approved. You need to make sure you have your shit together enough to interface with their PM tools.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:20 PM on July 16, 2014

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