When a creative project comes together, it can be the best feeling in the world. But so often, that moment is delayed, sometimes for months on end, for reasons that could easily have been avoided.
Whether you're working in a large organisation or a small team, we've all seen projects fall prey to bottlenecks, holdups and failure to meet deadlines. At which point, we beat ourselves up and promise to do better in future. But actually, without putting proper systems in place, we're liable to end up in the same place on the next project.
The good news is that getting organised is pretty straightforward. But it does involve grasping some basic concepts first. And one of the most important these days is the difference between project management and project administration.
Project administration vs project management
We'll start with the more commonly understood of the two terms. Project management is the process of leading the work of a team to achieve all project goals. It's usually led by a project manager, who takes on responsibility for strategy, planning, monitoring and managing team members.
However, that's not all it takes to complete a project.
Below the higher-level tasks of project management are numerous lower-level administrative tasks. These may include, for example:
- scheduling meetings and appointments
- tracking individual team members' progress
- arranging sign-off of deliverables by clients.
Typically a project manager cannot do all of these tasks by themselves, and in some organisations, dedicated project administrators may be appointed to complete them.
Whoever takes responsibility, though, the crucial thing about project administration is that it relies on information about all the project's activities. This data must be maintained, continually updated, and shared with the team in a way that is easily understandable and accessible.
In other words, while project management makes it easy for team members to know what they're supposed to be working on in general, project administration lets them know what they should be working on right now... and when they must do it by.
Getting back on track
The more large and more complex a project is, the more that project administration is likely to be needed to keep it on track.
For example, say that your team is building a promotional app for a client and that some of the coding takes longer to debug than expected. The information provided by project administration will then be used to get the project back on schedule.
This might be achieved, for example, by simplifying some of the explainer illustrations, so they can be completed more quickly or by holding back one of the app's more advanced features until later in the beta releases. But whatever the proposed solution, any change to one task or workflow is likely to impact on many others in the creation process.
With that in mind, being able to view all the relevant data in real-time, and make appropriate adjustments accordingly, is key. Preparing, reporting, and analysing data, then, is the name of the game when it comes to project administration.
The best tools make it easy to record, process, and analyse all the data you need more efficiently, reliably and quickly. This is particularly important in the case of teams that do not have a dedicated project administrator.
Division of labour
So who's responsible for project administration?
In simple terms, this varies from organisation to organisation and project to project. But as a rule of thumb, the larger the organisation and the more complex the project, the more likely it is there'll be a separate project administrator, a role which may also be titled project co-ordinator.
To put it bluntly, no project manager can do everything. And so, the more work the project administrator can take off their shoulders, the more attention both can pay to those little details which – if missed – can often derail a project.
Typically a project manager will do things such as oversee the budget and resources allocated to the project; keep on top of schedules to make sure that all tasks are completed on time; record of all plan updates; and communicate these to the project manager.
Of course, hiring a distinct project administrator isn't the only way to make sure your creative project runs smoothly. Another way that project administration can become more efficient is through the use of the right software.
Not sure how to set up your project administration? The best tools make it easy to record, process, and analyse all the data you need more efficiently, reliably and quickly. This is particularly important in the case of teams that do not have a dedicated project administrator.
How Rodeo can help
We like Rodeo, quite simply because this all-in-one project management tool is designed by creatives for creatives. It was launched by people with their roots in the creative industry, who know how time in this sector obeys different laws, particularly under the stress of tight client deadlines.
At the time, there wasn't a project management tool that did what they needed. So they built their own, and the rest is history.
Rodeo includes built-in project administration functions, making it easy to access the data you need to progress your project. Once you've entered the data, much of the analysis is automatically done for you, saving you time and stress, reducing the worry of human error, and ultimately keeping your project on track.
If your ad-hoc attempts at project organisation result in an unholy mess of cluttered files, messy and incomplete documentation and infinite and confusing email threads, why not give yourself a break? Invest in a decent project management tool, get your creative projects on track, and start to see the stress just fade away.
You can learn more about Rodeo and how it can boost your creative projects here.