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Project Management / Traffic

     
10:38 pm on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I work as the lead designer and, recently named, art director for the web side of an ad agency.

As we prepare to broaden our market and grow our team, we are in need of removating the way that we distribute tasks and information. We've bounced more than a few ideas around from using specific PM applications to a blogging system to things that best go unnamed. With the number of people contributing to a site and the number of steps in the process, it is very easy to slip into chaos or, at the least, to work less than efficiently.

What do you all use to handle this tangled web?
Our number one priority is a centralized information system where communications between members of the team are available to everyone, everyone's role is clearly spelled out, etc. As you know, dry boards and mountains of e-mails don't quite cut it - especially since some of us work remotely (me).

thank you,

-scott

9:43 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Hello Knary

It sounds like you need some form of content management system that can be operated via a web interface, but then you probably knew that already. Centralisation is the way forward, 1 central area avoids multiple copies that may allow for errors to introduce themselves.

The reason I post is to give a you a couple of thinking points that may help you decide on a solution.

Do you want everyone to have say FTP access to a bunch of templates? Fine if you are confident that everyone will behave and not screw up the system by meddling.

Do you want people to sign off on work and approve it before it goes live?

People are far more motivated to get involved when they think they are developing/maintaining a web site or part of. If you go for purely the “thickest user” web forms you have removed some of that fun and people may be reluctant to get involved.

Could you include a discussion forum where you could replace your whiteboards and emails.

Just a few thoughts (no answers :))

Cheers

10:44 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I am keen to see what solutions - if any - this thread comes up with as we have found remote working remarkably complicated given that today's world should be interconnected. However - here are a few thought of my own:

1) The BBC site structure sounds as though they are protecting themselves - every area has a separate directory (eg .../radio1 or .../radiofivelive etc) so one assumes that they can give people ftp (or more likely content management) access to specific subdirectories, whilst retaining common .css settings - if you designate subdirectories properly with limited access rights then at least you should eliminate the chaos - if not the efficiency.

2) We have played around with setting up a community like MSN's community or Yahoo's Groups. These give a web based central point of communication. They also allow you to store documents and restrict viewing to members only. They also have a calender, so in THEORY you can set deadlines and tasks... I would say they are worth looking at. Embarrassingly inexpensive and simple sounding solution, but if a community does 90% of what you need for now, then it becomes easier to see what you would need in a dedicated piece of software later.

Dixon.

12:24 pm on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I am going to come at this from another perspective - not just the conversing, but the planning. How about Microsoft Project to manage the time of all of the employees? Or Project Central might be a better tool.

There are certain tasks which need to be done before others. Since people are assigned to tasks, Fred needs to know when Wilma will finish her tasks so that he can do his and then Barney can take over. Because a pm tool is being used, Fred knows if Wilma is falling behind, etc.

Project Central would allow everyone to have access to updating their work. Or better yet there shoudl be one pm to whom everyone sends their updates about where they are.

The nice thing about this also, is that if you share resources with the print side, you can tell what they are currently working on and when they will be available.

itrainu

3:18 pm on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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In truth, I'm hoping that we can completely overhaul how our group functions. We were built, mostly by default, on the print model. But, as you all know, building a web site is very different from putting together some print materials.

And it's an ad agency. Time is always short. Deadlines looming. Everyone scrambling. While being efficient is all the more important becuase of this kind of environment, we rarely have time to be efficient. Silly, I know.

I focused on the need to better control information not because everything else is running smoothly, but because it is common to all the problems and all of the solutions.

The dream:
1. Client Area
2. Calendar
3. Task chart
4. Some kind of forum/blogging system (as smartly mentioned above) that keeps most correspondance in one location.

thank you for the replies and any other suggestions. This is all very helpful.

-scott

8:25 am on Sept 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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The Client area is the only problem for your dream using an MSN or Yahoo free community - naturally you don't want to send your clients to see anything branded differently to yourself. For a client area, you should really get a virtual site that allows you to easily add user areas. There are plenty on the market.

Alternatively, do a search for other "online groups" or "online communities" and find one that - for a small fee - will allow you to brand a group to your own needs.

Never any point in reinventing the wheel, but I know ad agencies... using anything "branded" is usually a no-no and whatever they tend to want, the rules will change when they get it :)

Dixon.

8:41 am on Sept 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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The only real issue i see with using an established online forum resource such as Yahoo is security.

Having said that, the scripts for building a secure version on one of our own servers are readily available. Sounds like an excellent idea!

:)
thanks,
-scott

3:12 am on Oct 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I saw a really stunning demonstration last week of Adobe Design Team, an online collaboration system. Allows you to post documents, graphics, etc, to a secure web area.

Team members have password access. They can attach comments to the materials that have been posted, make changes, lock documents while they are working on them, save versions, and make secure deliveries to third parties... etc. You do have a client area. It's not intended, by the way, to be a replacement for project management software... it's more a collaboration tool.

Pricing is reasonable, by the month, and flexible... determined by the size of the team. I was very impressed.

More information on the Adobe Studio site [studio.adobe.com].

 

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