Workflow & Project Management
At the company I work for we are growing aggressively and as our workload increases, our project and asset management needs to mature. We are hoping to implement a project numbering system for organization and tracking, but a hurdle we are running into is at what point does a task become a "project". To explain, our creative team does everything from print and digital design to animation to event photography and video coverage, and commercial video production. We serve both as a retainer marketing agency and as a one-stop production house for creative work.
What seems obvious to me is that any animation or video project for us is sizable enough to merit being assigned a project number and given the appropriate workflow between account executives and creatives.
However, our design work can be as big as designing an experiential marketing activation to something as small as updating a social media graphic for a client; the former seems big enough to merit a project number and tracking, but the latter seems like it would be a giant waste of time to have multiple steps of workflow to deliver.
We have a traffic cop role on the creative team who handles assigning and tracking projects, but since they can't do that full time we ask the account executives to run "big" items by them, but "small" things (like updating a business card or social media graphic) can go straight to the assigned creative; but determining what is "big" or "small" is a really subjective thing, especially from the account executive side of things who don't understand the gamut of creative work.
A couple that appear obvious to me to consider are:
1) Go all-or-nothing. Everything gets a project number, everything goes through traffic cop. The issue here is that is a full-time job and we just don't have that person doing that full time now.
2) Create a separate system for design projects from video and photography work.
Has anyone else had to deal with something similar? I really would value any insight you can share.
Well, our system is far from ideal, but we have project numbers for one-off tasks, and "ongoing project" numbers for separate tasks, separated in time and even by the person doing them. If you have the ongoing project number assigned, and everybody who touches a related project enters that OP number, at least the database can put everything related to that project in one box, so to speak.
As to who plays traffic cop, a lot of that has to relate to the individual personality and management style of the managers. if you really have trust in your team, you delegate more freely and don't require an iron grip to approve everything up to their respiration rate. I'd say, as a rule of thumb, whatever it is, if it can be completed in less than an hour, let the individual operatives manage their own reporting of it by logging it to one of those "ongoing project numbers". And maybe send a weekly running tab of just those little jobs to the supervisor to give them sense of what's going on.
If the job takes more than an hour, or hits a complicating snag of some sort, it then goes thru the formal process.
I would suggest easing into your organization system to allow your staff to get used to it. you don't want a system to be so time consuming to use that people ignore it.
Start with a project number, then add some other element like folder structure, or whatever.
Excel may work initially, or have some web based service to track projects like Basecamp or equivalent
It reminds of the question of job tickets for IT support. For a quick 1 sentence solution it seems silly to open a tocket and potentially add hours or days to the response time, whereas larger issues that may take a lot of time or outside service to fix need to be tracked in more detail. So the question is, how do you determine the scope of a problem (or project in your case) and who makes that decision?