We no longer consider the “Artisan/Organizer” approach our primary project management methodology. We now use
Often, projects require both logistical and creative thinking to be successful. A successful model for us has been to pair a creative or technical expert with a project manager as the core of a project team. One of those individuals should likely be the DRI on a given project, but the presence of both skillsets is important.
We have found that most top-level creatives are not necessarily passionate about the logistics of running a project, while the best logistics people aren’t necessarily able to execute design and development work. We make sure to include both mindsets in our projects so that each type can lean into their strengths. Even though on some projects, a given individual can handle both, it helps to have redundancy and knowledge sharing among multiple people.
The Project Management handbook is written primarily for PMs themselves, but technical/design leads should also understand our approach at a high level so they know what to expect from the PMs they are paired with, and can act as a DRI overseeing the work of a PM.
The DRI is responsible for ensuring that everything gets done on the project. When the DRI is more of a creative/technical type, they will need to perform clear delegation of logistics to the PM, and accountability for making sure the PM has gotten everything done.
Every project and team is a bit different. Depending on the project size, complexity, and who is acting as Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) roles may shift. These are some example duties that make sense for a project which contains a creative expert alongside a Project Manager.
- Perform creative or technical reviews (approving merge requests, etc)
- Work with the PM to maintain the project’s Basecamp todo lists. Frequently, the Creative/Tech Lead is best positioned to fill out the body of a todo with relevant instructions for a different team member, while the PM is best at creating all the original todos and making sure they get filled out.
- Act as the leader for the design/dev staff on the project. Provide the overall direction for the work.
- Typically, take on the primary design/dev responsibilities (For a large project, the Creative/Tech lead may be more hands-off)
- Act as the lead presenter for client work, deferring to team members to discuss particular aspects of the work, in conjunction with the DRI
- Take responsibility for making sure that site documentation (including QA checklists) is written alongside all design/development work that occurs, and that it is continually updated as the project goes from one person to another. See
Project Managers (Often acting as DRI)
- Monitor the budget and timeline constantly. Flag and correct deviations from the plan.
- Act as the lead person for client communication. If the DRI is not the project manager, both the PM and DRI should be included on all communication. The DRI should decide on a project-by-project basis if they should be the primary communicator, or if they would like the PM to do most of the communicating. The DRI is responsible for communicating this to any PMs they are working with.
- Run the opening and closing procedures for the project. Receive new project instructions from Sales via the SOW signed by the client. Conduct internal kickoff calls to ensure that the whole team has read and fully absorbed the SOW and understands the project fully.
- Schedule internal and client-facing meetings appropriately.
- Ensure that the Basecamp todos for the project are comprehensive and accurate at any given moment. Frequently, the PM will require the Creative/Tech Lead to provide technical or creative details around todos that are assigned to team members other than the Creative/Tech Lead. The PM is responsible for prompting the Creative/Tech lead to do so at an appropriate time.
- Ensure that we have the right staff assigned to the project to get it completed correctly. The Creative/Tech Lead may have better perspective on which internal or external people would be a good fit for the project.