Interactive Media Project Management
Interactive media projects combine knowledge of the latest interactive event technology, organisation, communication and trouble-shooting - therefore skilled management is required in order to successfully deliver a project. In this section we will discuss what interactive project management is, the steps which project managers can take to organise an interactive project and the skills they need to ensure their venture fulfils their client’s goals.
What is Interactive Project Management?
Interactive project management involves organising the planning and execution of an interactive project. This position is likely to include working closely and collaboratively with clients, suppliers, IT support, developers and designers.
Working with multiple external companies and a diverse internal team requires a broad skillset including excellent leadership, meticulous organisation and a propensity for communication. Project managers on interactive projects have the added challenge of negotiating interactive devices and media, this could include games for learning, apps, and developing VR, so ensuring your team is knowledgeable about interactive media and how this media functions should be a priority.
Interactive Project Management: The Process
Before you commence work on any project research is essential, this is especially true of interactive projects. If your company is an agency working on behalf of a client you should start with familiarising yourself with the companies brand guidelines, specifications for the project, design briefs and thoroughly research into the project’s target market.
You should then ensure that everyone else who will be working on the project is aware of the demands of the brief and understands their individual responsibilities. Once this is established the team should produce a number of thoroughly researched project concepts that cater to the client’s brief. These concept options should be then presented to the client.
The planning process starts with deciding on a final concept which has considered suppliers, budget, venues, designs and resources. Reaching your final concept may take a while and you have to be able to adapt to your client’s amendments with accuracy and speed.
You should also create a designated time-line for your project that is as clear as possible. You should have each production stage and detail how long each stage is likely to take. It is extremely important to stick to this timeline as closely as possible to keep your project on track.
Remember - your planning process needs to be the most thorough stage, a good plan can make your interactive project a success and a rushed plan can be a disaster. For example if you are using 10 IPads for an interactive event you need to know how you will power these devices, whether you will use Wi-Fi or routers for internet connection, if you have the correct applications available on the IPads and how you will display these IPads for the best effect etc.
Production of an interactive project is likely to involve design, ordering resources, logistics like hiring venues, computer programming, tech support and construction. Each area should be led by a team member with the most appropriate skills.
The key to organising all of these individual elements is communication – keep in contact with all members of your team and ensure that the time line is being followed closely. If something has gone wrong – trouble-shoot as soon as possible.
The testing stage is essential for a safe and effective interactive project. Consider doing a re-build for a constructed event and testing the safety of all elements of your design to ensure all electronic equipment, audio, lighting and supplies like exhibition stands are structurally sound and fully functional. Testing your project beforehand will allow time for corrections before the project deadline and ensure your customers are entirely satisfied with what you have produced.
This testing stage is especially important for an interactive event which uses a variety of technology that depends on the success of a variety of elements such as power supply, Wi-Fi connection and sound systems.
Throughout as a project manager you should be monitoring the progress of the interactive project and ensuring that your initial goals and time frames are on track.
Communicating with your team and ensuring your clients are happy with your progress is essential. You might what to monitor this with regular meetings and calls where each team member can feedback on developments and any challenges they may be facing that is impeding the completion of their work.
Evaluating your interactive project when it is finished is a great way of improving your techniques for future projects. In this final stage it is important to look back on your initial hopes for the project and assess whether these goal were reached. Once you have determined your successes and failures you can comprehensively pinpoint the ways you can rectify your problem areas in future.
What Makes a Good Interactive Project Manager?
You should aim to bring specific knowledge to every interactive project you run. Whether you have some knowledge about the client and their specific requirements or not, further research is always advised. Remember that interactive technology is always evolving and the best options for your client’s project might be new to the market. This research should be focused, thorough and realistic.
For example, imagine you are a project manager running you are running an interactive event for a media company focusing on virtual reality development (specifically games). It’s essential to research and be aware of the VR headsets options available to the client. If your client is looking for a simple cost-effective model to fit a modest budget Argos sell their own VR headsets at 14.99 GBP whereas if your client’s game is only compatible with PlayStation you would naturally recommend the Sony PlayStation VR Headset at 349.99 GBP.
Although research allows you to provide informed recommendations and developed concepts to your clients, communication is needed to ensure that these concepts come to fruition.
Ask your clients for their feedback at every stage of your interactive project, the project is always a collaboration between your company and your client and it should always be treated as a team effort. Be very clear with your joint objectives for the project and be transparent with any limitations you have that might impede your progress as soon as they arise. Being open and honest will prevent future tension over failures and allow you both to resolve these limitations before they have a negative impact on the project.
Excellent communication within your internal team is also essential. Interactive project managers must ensure they all team members are aware of the objectives, limitations and expectations of the project and must work together to ensure that challenges are dealt with quickly and effectively. If you regularly update your team and, actively listen to their progress and obstacles, working together will come naturally. You should always be aware of the status of the project and communicating well with team members is the best way to keep on top of the project as a whole.
Organisation and planning should be at the fore-front of your mind in the process of project managing your interactive project. It is useful to create a timeline for the project before work begins and create regular agendas which detail how the work will be completed and by who.
Keeping well organised files on all elements of the project from supplier quotes to client updates will keep your work focused and provide a useful reference for team members.
Interactive project managers should be professionals at trouble-shooting. Interactive events have several components: from deciding on interactive event technology to pre-builds and testing, the varied nature of this work means that problems with inevitably crop up. Successful project managers will work with their team and clients to solve the biggest issues in a way that will benefit the client. Being adaptable and quick-thinking will ensure that the project fulfils your client’s objectives regardless of problems along the way.