What is a Creative Project Manager?

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash

A creative project manager is a person of many skills. As you lead a team of creatives, whether for an agency or as an in-house resource for a company, you will need to wear many hats. You need to blend a whole spectrum of personality traits and skills for a successfully-run creative project.

As a creative project manager, you are the central point of information between numerous ends of the project:

  • Yourself and your creative team
  • Team member to team member
  • Stakeholders to a team member or vice versa
  • Yourself and the company upper management or client

While you need to possess a leader’s traits, you also need to understand creatives and how their work processing takes place. When managing creative projects, you are not rearranging what already exists to organize it into one usable product (like coding, for example). Instead, you need to follow a process where you and your team imagine a solution to achieve your goal and then make it tangible.

Highlights of Creative Project Management

The pros of creative project management are that you collaborate with talented creatives and create something that couldn’t be made alone. You have the honor to introduce something original and bring your business positive attention for your authentic creative achievements.

Challenges of Creative Project Management

However, the cons of creative project management are that it won’t be successful if you don’t properly balance creativity with structure. Your duty is to instruct your team to follow your project’s roadmap and not stray away from it. This means keeping members who rely on imagination grounded, which can be challenging.

As a creative project manager, you need to establish a creative workflow process that your team must follow closely to complete your project on time and stay within the limits of the project’s targeted focus. This will generally include:

  • Intaking your project including the stakeholders’ target and overall project scope
  • Developing a creative brief with details of what the creatives involved will need to produce
  • Determining creative resources in-house and any possible external services necessary
  • Choosing a realistic submission date
  • Designating tasks to creatives
  • Breaking your project down into stages
  • Reviewing and revising your team’s work
  • Eventually sending your project to stakeholders for signoff

You will be leading your creative team along the creative project process to be aware of their duties and when to complete them for the project to stay on track. While they are given their own responsibilities that will influence the overall progress, you are carrying the most responsibility as you need to stay on top of all moving parts, keep creatives focused, offer critical feedback on their work and keep stakeholders satisfied.

Your roles are endless as a creative project manager as you find the fine line between creativity and practicality. You will be a planner, enforcer, informer, critic, overseer, thinker, doer, salesperson, supporter and more.

When leading a creative project, you’ll have to merge qualities on opposite ends of the spectrum. These are the main qualities to embrace that make a successful creative project manager:

Creative Project Management Qualities

Idealist

You’ll need to be an abstract thinker who can envision a finished product before it’s been created. You need to use your idealist imagination to craft concepts without any examples before you.

Fortunately, when working on creative projects, you have the imagination of your fellow staff to work with, so you can form ideas with pieces of each other’s imagination to construct a planned product that is attainable, original and will accomplish your stakeholder’s target goals.

Motivational

This will be needed more than with non-creative projects because you are working with artists whose job is to rely on ideas and execute them effectively. They are subject to challenges that can make their creative process during the project difficult.

As the project manager, you need to motivate your team to overcome their roadblocks and keep everything running smoothly.

Communicative

An effective leader needs to know how to communicate with different personalities involved in the project. You need to have all details of the project internalized so you can explain in detail to anyone who may be confused or need extra guidance.

A strong communicator is not solely someone who knows the information and tells it to whoever asks. You need to cater your communicative approach according to the person you are interacting with. If it’s busy stakeholders, you may need to be straightforward, update them on progress, any challenges that your team is experiencing and obtain necessary answers or solutions from them.

Creatives may be more sensitive to criticism whenever you need to share it. You’ll have to be empathetic when leading them to acknowledge the incredible effort they invest in their work. Negative feedback may leave them feeling unappreciated if not communicated properly. That’s why showing respect for what they’ve done and giving critiques that will improve their project work and overall will keep them encouraged and focused on the task at hand.

Business Project Management Qualities

Logical

While it’s easy to get carried away with your project’s creative aspects, a creative project manager needs to stay in touch with their logical side. As a creativity-motivated leader working in a professional environment, you must stay focused on your business success, which is the ultimate desired outcome.

Crunch the numbers involved in the budget, timelines or deliverable measurements so every detail is in place. Your project’s concrete factors offer limits for your creatives to stay within as they shape ideas, execute them or rely on external resources.

Resourceful

A creative project manager needs to be resourceful, so you don’t lose time creating tools or pieces that are available to support your creative process.

With a tangible resource, you and your team can stay on track and rely on helpful tools available for successfully completing the project. Use examples of past projects for inspiration to elevate and reshape concepts into an entirely new product. Collaborative software will allow your team to work together on tasks or outline the entire product for better manageability and timing.

Efficient

Overall, your role is to keep your project running efficiently. You have deadlines to meet and tasks to monitor so that every factor will contribute to the project’s initial goal. Without someone reminding the creative team to stick to deadlines, stay within budget and remain focused on the stakeholders’ targeted results, the project will not be successful.

Deadlines offer stages to review and revise what’s been completed and then keep moving forward with your progress. However, if you don’t know how your team manages their time, you may end up with pushed deadlines and project delays, which could impair your relationship with stakeholders.

Maintain your project efficiently with actiTIME time tracking software. This will help you monitor your team’s productivity during the creative process. You can share your project roadmap so they will understand the necessity of completing their tasks on time.

With actiTIME, you can collaborate, observe, proactively problem-solve and ensure everything is completed by the project’s final submission date. Your effectively produced creative project will succeed as all small details are combined, reviewed and eventually shared.

Lead your creative team with actiTIME for an efficiently-completed project. Start your free trial now.

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