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Project Management System

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Phillip CrookProject Management System
by on Jul 31, 2009 at 10:50:31 am

Hello everyone,

I am trying to find a successful system between my Project Manager and I. The idea is for me as the Creative Director/Lead Designer, and the Project Manager to be on a system that allows real time updates on status of clients. Whether it be where I am at with the clients project, scheduling, contract status, invoice/payment status etc. - so that information can be relayed back to the client via the Project Manager. I would like to be able to update tasks, calenders, project status and things like that, so that he and I are always on the same page with each and every project (and vice versa.) Basically, I would like to focus more on creating, and less on the small logistics that can be handled by him, and thus increase my productivity and eventually be able to work on hiring new talent. Any help would be greatly appreciated, Im interested in hearing your feedback. Thanks in advance

Phillip Crook, Jr.
Owner | Creative Director
401.447.3035 (Direct)


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Mike CohenRe: Project Management System
by on Jul 31, 2009 at 2:29:22 pm

If you are a dedicated project manager, then you have lots of time for managing the managing of the projects, such as with Basecamp, MS Project or Dot Project.
However most project managers in media production are not only doing PM duties, but also a variety of production duties.

We have, over the years, tried a number of offline and online solutions. Nothing has worked perfectly, but you need to be careful that you do not create more work for all involved.

In order to update the status on something or track hours it should be as easy as visiting a web page. You also have to make sure you are not generating too much paper, excessive update emails or need for meetings.

Our group is all in one office, so I use a large markerboard that lists all projects, and then an excel file if we need to break things down further.

However if you have a lot of people involved, that is a lot of emails and potentially different versions of an Excel or Word doc. Not good.

I have evaluated several of the web-based, paid and open source PM suites. They all use a dashboard of some kind, but they all have a limitation or they violate one of the rules stated above.

Usually, simpler is better. Since we have an in-house web developer, we have come up with some easy to manage web-based tools for tracking and updating tasks, reviewing media and letting multiple parties share the same information with a minimum of emailing and phone calls. Since most project tracking activities can be accomplished with a database, when we think of a new requirement, a wave of his php magic wand usually yields good results.

In other words, a custom solution has been just what we needed. There is either the cost of a paid web-based service, the cost of implementing an open-source package or the cost of programming something simple from scratch.

A markerboard and some licorice scented markers is the lowest cost of all and did I mention the scented flavored markers?

Check out my Creative COW blog - i talk a lot about project management.

Mike Cohen

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Brendan CootsRe: Project Management System
by on Aug 3, 2009 at 7:21:28 am

As Mike points out, a custom solution (preferably web-based) is the way to go. Quick access to features and overall ease of use is absolutely critical for any system like this to succeed. Otherwise, people WILL get lazy here and there and, once the information is no longer fully up to date, the system becomes useless and the wheels begin to fall off the cart. In my experience, most off-the-shelf systems have a learning curve that leads to user apathy, they tend to lock you into a specific and particular workflow/feature set, and they generally lack key features for folks in our industry. There are post-industry-specific solutions like Farmer's Wife, but they can be very expensive.

Any competent PHP web developer can bang something out in a matter of days to get you started, and add features as you need them. Here's some other advantages of a system like this:

- No expensive software, updates, multiple licenses etc.
- Universal access from any where (say, a beach in Hawaii), and any time because it's simply web-based
- Scalable, which can be hard to find in lower cost off-the-shelf solutions
- Customizable to your heart's content. Not generally possible with OTS solutions
- Can be added onto as funds/needs grow
- Features like content management, CRM, to-do's etc. are all easy to code in PHP and save thousands compared to software-based solutions

But the best part has to be the wide availability of PHP programmers out there. You aren't buying into some limited system that, should it break down, takes weeks to get back up and running because a specialist has to be flown out from Sweden. There are probably more web developers in your area than auto mechanics.
Most PHP developers worth their salt charge between $15-$40/hr. depending on where you live and the complexity of your requirements. Most should be able to get a bare bones system up within a few days of work. This means your initial system could cost as little as $250.

Our current system is web-based (PHP) and includes a secure client area with video previews, artist management, CRM, equipment tracking, job tracking and a wide range of other features, all hooked together in a useful architecture that is easy to use and fairly sophisticated. Users actually USE it, clients love it, and we're much more productive as a result.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

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Mike CohenRe: Project Management System
by on Aug 3, 2009 at 2:32:18 pm

Hey Brendan - I checked out your site - nice work.

Mike Cohen

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Brendan CootsRe: Project Management System
by on Aug 5, 2009 at 8:29:43 pm

Aw shucks. Thanks!

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

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Bruce BennettRe: Project Management System
by on Aug 15, 2009 at 12:18:13 pm

Hi Phil,

I just saw this from one of my LinkedIn group emails. Might be something worth checking out.


Good luck,

Bruce Bennett
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC

Creative Inspiration
Documentaries for those who love to create … and to be inspired.

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