Every industry has its challenges. As a creative project manager, I endeavour to bring transparency and build trust among team members, which will eventually result in better collaboration and communication. However, there are times we face challenges. 

In this blog, I have attempted to share some of these challenges and suggest possible solutions to tackle the same. 

1. The Alliance between Creativity and Project Management

Sometimes there may be a disconnect between the Project Manager and the Creative Team.

As a PM, you may want to quantify tasks and monitor the team’s progress by tracking their crucial performance. While managers always prefer to break down complex tasks into simpler ones, creative work, on the other hand, is hard to break down and quantify. Solving a design problem by adding man-hours won’t spark artistic success. As a creative project manager, one of the biggest challenges is to manage the creative teams’ expectations while still managing to get them to meet deadlines and work within the project scope. 

Solution: Try to balance your project objectives while nurturing your creative. Joint brainstorming at the concept stage goes a long way here. It is essential to meet the deadline and stay within the scope, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of creativity. 

2. Developing a Creative-Friendly Environment

One of my animators says, the more mistakes he makes, the better is the animation output. But, often, we don’t have the luxury to make mistakes and experiment when a project is running on tight deadlines. 

Solution: As a project manager, it is essential to nurture your creatives and provide them with a creative-friendly environment. This can be both physical and psychological, where they can experiment, collaborate and learn. Be empathetic and get to know them because creative management is not just about resources but also, real people with varied interests and thinking. Compliment them, recognize them for their excellent work, and help overcome their creative blocks. They are sure to amaze you with the result. 

3. Handling project scopes and changes

Creative projects are often unpredictable due to the subjective nature of creative work. Sometimes the client’s vision of a product or video might not match the result. This can result in multiple iterations at a later stage and may lead us back to the drawing board. There will be times when the scope and expectation keep changing with every meeting, and most likely, you end up shooting up both the deadline and the budget. 

Managing this change in scope can be one of the most challenging responsibilities as a creative project manager.

Solution – Prepare a questionnaire and collect as much data as possible to avoid any confusion. This step will help understand the client’s vision and project complexity, which will further help in streamlining the project. Set milestones and get a sign-off at each stage to avoid unnecessary rework. 

Define the number of ‘free’ iterations; always limit them and charge extra for anything that goes beyond the discussed numbers. 

4. Communication and Collaboration

One of the significant challenges in creative project management is communication and collaboration. The whole team needs to visualize the result and work towards the project’s vision together. More than anything else, a creative project depends on cooperation. But it is also something that you can’t enforce with tools or policies. It depends solely on each individual’s commitment to the work. 

At times you’ll also have to change the course of your project to fit in the needs of creative projects. But, with the right amount of empathy, creativity, collaboration and communication, you can overcome all the challenges and successfully deliver your project. 

About the author:

Reshma Sukumaran

Reshma works as the Project Manager at WowMakers Digital Experience Studio, Kochi. When she is not juggling between projects, you’ll find her spending time with her plants, reading books and relishing her strong sugarless coffee with cheese cake.