Production Design Project Management Using Gantter
Managing multiple design projects on-the-go can be a daunting task for any one. As someone who runs their own design business; planning a schedule to meet project deadlines and delegating tasks are crucial when it comes to the process of executing my client projects. I recently discussed the production design process with my Media Studies students at the University of Guelph-Humber and walked them through the various phases of managing a design project. We used Gantter to create a visual timeline for our project while assigning resources and dependencies, delegating tasks, and setting costs and milestones for our project. Gantter is a cloud-based project management solution that integrates Google’s productivity features, which allows users to share and collaborate with their team members when working on various projects. In this tutorial, I will review how to setup a gantt chart project using the properties panel, assign resources, labour costs and durations, and delegate tasks with gantters predecessors/dependencies feature.
Go to gantter.com and register for a free trial account and confirm your registered email.
Setup your project properties by going to project > properties menu.
Under the general tab, enter a deadline date. At times, you may work on a series of projects per week. Under the duration tab, you can set specific hours, days and weeks for each project.
You may also specify what time your day begins and ends under the time defaults tab. Under the properties section, you can also include important project notes and links for your team members or yourself.
We can always go back to our properties dialogue if we need to adjust anything later on. For now, we can click ‘save’ and begin to add resources.
Select the resource tab on the left hand side. Resources are essentially items that you need to complete the project. Work is considered labour and material is considered as an object. For example, a graphic designer is considered work. There is a person associated with fulfilling the task of providing graphical elements for the project. Web hosting is considered a material. It is necessary to publish and display the project online.
Within the resources tab, you can add your team members and their roles; along with their email, hourly cost/rate, and assign a calendar for their schedule.
Click back on the tasks tab and go to the view menu. Select the cost column and show root summary column to view the cost and duration of the entire project.
We can begin to add phases and tasks for our project and then assign resources and predecessors to those tasks.
Predecessors allow you to assign a task that needs to be completed before another task can begin.
As I enter each task, I’ll start by typing in a phase title and then each sub-task of that phase. In the example below, I will begin by entering my first project phase, which is the ‘Discovery Phase’. Then I will type in each sub task that belongs to the Discovery Phase. Once I finish entering each sub-task, I can group my sub tasks by selecting the rows of each task by their row number and holding the SHIFT key to select multiple rows/tasks. Then, I’ll select the ‘indent’ right arrow → underneath the Baselines menu.
After we enter each task, we can input a duration for each task, assign predecessors, and resources. We can also enter predecessors by double-clicking on the predecessor cell. A dialogue box will pop-up with checkboxes for each task. You can select a predecessor for each task within this dialogue.
When adding a duration, enter a number value followed by a character code. For example, hours = h, days = d, weeks = w. Therefore, 1 hour = 1h, 1 day = 1d, 1 week = 1w. If you want to enter less than a full value, you can enter decimals. ie: 30 mins = 0.5h.
Finally, you can assign a resource or multiple resources to each task. We should begin to see our gantt chart develop on the right side of the browser window.
You can pan around the gantt chart by holding your mouse in a down state and dragging left to right. You will notice that each task begins after its preceding task. By setting predecessors, the duration of our project will automatically update based on our calendar schedule within our project properties.
For the sake of this tutorial, I will enter another phase below and go through how to separate each phase from its parent category.
Proceed to enter your second phase title. Mine will be the ‘Design Phase’. I will also enter sub tasks, such as sketches, wireframes, mockups, and interactive prototypes. I’ll also enter duration estimates, predecessors and resources for each task. I’ll exaggerate the duration of each task so that you can see how the gantt chart begins to expand.
Once you enter all of the sub tasks, select the row number of the Design Phase so that it becomes highlighted and then select the ‘unindent’ left ← arrow underneath the Baselines menu.
Gantter also has some other features that help you collaborate and share your projects with team members. You can invite and share team members on your gantt chart as viewers or editors by clicking on the Share button in the top right corner of the interface. You can simply enter your team member’s email, assign them as a viewer or editor and then share your gantt chart with them by selecting the ‘Share/Invite’ button in the bottom right corner.
Finally, you can export your gantt chart to Microsoft Project or save it as a PDF or HTML file to publish online. In addition, you can also export your deadlines and milestones to your iCal, Outlook, or Google Calendar to receive notifications for task deadlines and project due dates.
There are many project management applications available that might be more robust or user-friendly than Gantter. GanttPro, TeamGantt, and StudioBinder are some others that are worth trying. However, Gantter is fairly easy to use, and has a lot of advanced features that other applications charge a premium for; such as adding costs, materials, and resources. Personally, I think Gantter is a great tool for those who want to learn how to project manage the production design process, while gaining a holistic view of all the moving parts of a design project.