Is management today the hardest job of all for the self employed designer?
Management is going to be vital to your success as now you are an entrepreneur – not just a designer – and this means that you are now the master of all trades (marketing, PR, accounts, logistics, sourcing, production and so the list grows) as well as the master of your destiny!
So what exactly is management – according toWikipedia the definition is below:
"Management in business and human organization activity, in simple terms means the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals. Management comprises planning, organising, resourcing, leading or directing, and controlling an organisation (a group of one or more people or entities) or effort for the purpose of accomplishing a goal. Resourcing encompasses the deployment and manipulation of human resources, financial resources, technological resources, and natural resources."
Remember just because you don't have staff doesn't mean to say that you still don't have to manage people…what about the pattern guy who may be putting your job to the bottom of the pile? The grader who is has a rush job for a major client, the fabric agent who will send your swatches out whenever he can fit it in….these are all people who need to be managed "indirectly" of course so you have to find the right tools to manage this process.
Some designers result in being excellent project mangers – a set of skills that will be invaluable for the rest of your life! This is where successful project management combines four major areas: resources, time, money, and most importantly, the objective.
All these sections combine together and each one must be managed successfully to ensure synergy really occurs.
· 1) Resources
People who will you be working with – who are the subcontractors, your agents, the staff of the buying organisation, what equipment and components do you need, can you source them effectively, what are the auxiliary services that you will require, patterns, grades, delivery company etc.
· 2) Time
Task durations, dependencies, critical path with benchmarks and progress reports, time management is imperative to ensure that you remain focused and hit your deadlines. There is no point creating the perfect range if you completely miss the showcasing event to announce your arrival to the fashion world!
· 3) Financial
Costs of the subcomponents, the cost of delivery, the cost of the total garment what are the contingencies if things go wrong (and they always do at some point) what is the margin, what are the price structures – all are vital for success's
· 4) Objective
What is the project, the size of the project – its scope the goals and objectives and what is success measured by?
The project objective is the definition of what the project is supposed to accomplish and within what budget deadlines. Many designers forget the need to write a mission statement but you have to start somewhere so start at the top of your ultimate objective and work back into the minute detail.
Some management consultant talk of "scope creep" which is the identification of the small changes that combine together, in a synergistically, way to create the whole project. Each of these small changes is manageable by themselves so that's why it's important to breakdown the project and be organised and logical. Critical paths and a project overview can be all encompassing but a plan of action is a pre requisite. Remember the planning is important but so is the implementation. Don't get lost in the detail and keep that end goal in site. You can not effectively manage the resources, time and money in a project unless you actively manage the project scope.
When you have the project objective clearly identified and you have reviewed your critical path with allocated budgets now you are set for the interesting part itself. Making it all actually happen!