Losing my project manager

25 Mar 2012 - 9:00pm
4 years ago
3 replies
4343 reads

My agency is losing a project manager and I was told he will not be replaced.  My role as a user experience designer normally has meant that I complete my deliverables and submit them to my project manager.  The void that will be left when my project manager leaves will now be filled by myself, the creative director and another person.  I need help with my new duties.

I will be responsible for contributing to client SOW's (statement of work).  I specifically need advice towards pricing and time lines.  I was wondering how much you pad or compensate on your deliverables.  If you are to deliver 10 wireframes do you time line for 13?


27 Mar 2012 - 2:48am
Wow, it looks like you are going to have a lot of additional duties and I hope that they are going to compensate you for them. I hope that you get several responses that help you.


There can be a lot of work piled on player articles if a company decided to eliminate a position that was in the company but sometimes the pay can be nice.

28 Mar 2012 - 12:13pm

Jason, by combining the roles of PM and designer in one person, you will face 2 challenges:

  1. The conflict inherent in being responsible for making sure things get done on time and that they get done properly
  2. Maker time versus manager time 


The first problem is tough. As PM you will naturally try to fit the design process into whatever schedule the client has requested. You have to care about resources and how many hours things are going to take because you are the one who has to explain to the client (or management) why things aren't going to plan. When those two roles are in conflict, you will find yourself either prevaricating with the client (bad) or cutting corners with the design process (also bad, but easier to justify to the client).

All I can tell you is that's important to know when you are wearing a particular hat. You may have to externalize the conversation with a coworker so you don't set yourself up for failure.

The second problem is a little easier to deal with. Set aside a half hour two or three times a day when you will do PM tasks like answer emails, review documents, write schedules, estimate. Make sure you have good-sized blocks of time in between when you are designing, and not being interrupted by your PM tasks.

Realize that your efficiency will go down as a result of dividing your time. So if it you normally work at 80% efficiency (i.e., 80% of your hours are billable), you might need to drop that to 60% or even 50%. Your management needs to understand that this is the direct result of losing a team member and putting that work on someone else. Things simply won't get done as quickly.

Don't forget that there are two components in scheduling: time and duration. Time is how many hours it will take you to complete a task. Duration is how many days those hours will be spread over. (The lower your efficiency, the longer the duration for the same time.) Especially in creative work, you need duration to give the unconscious time to do its work.

If you are filling out timesheets now, look back at previous projects and figure out the effort level and duration for each one. This should give you a time and cost scale to measure future projects against. When estimating, don't forget that there's adminstrative time around all design tasks -- meetings, emails, feedback, pulling documents together. The easiest thing  is to come up with a multiplier (usually 10-20%) on top of your design time.

Hope this helps.



28 Mar 2012 - 5:59pm

I just faced this issue on the reverse. I'm actually the Director of Product Development at my company, but I also handle Project Management. I thought I would have the time to complete the information architecture and interaction design on my project, but after getting immersed in the requirements and understanding the risk, I immediately moved to get someone experienced on the project. There was just no way I could to everything in a 40-hour (really 60-hour) week. I don't know that it's really possible to play both roles, when one is managing time and the other needs more time than the PM believes they have. There's certainly going to be challenges in the scenario presented by the original poster.

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