The Art of Digital Project Management

image yoinked from Jane’s slides.

Last night I went along to the Photographers Gallery for my first Art of Digital London meet up. To hear some talks and meet some people. The topic for this month focused on Digital Project Management.

The premise was to understand:

How does an organisation keep all the plates spinning without losing the plot?

To find out we will spend this month investigating infrastructures, tools and systems that can help. They rarely receive top billing, but things such as Intranets, scheduling, task management and communication tools, as well as forms of project development (such as ‘Agile’), can make the world of project management a better place!

I have a background in project management and I don’t often get to flex my PM muscles now, so I do like to get a blast of project management speak from time to time, just to double check that it is still what I thought it was.

The evening consisted of three talks all considering slightly different aspects of digital project management within/for/about cultural and arts organisations.

First up was the lovely Jane who discussed her work as a digital producer.  Jane highlighted things cultural organisations need to be thinking about before starting a digital project:

  • What do you actually want to do? What content you have? Does it have to be digital? Jane despite being a digital producer has a fondness for non-digital things (her blog is full of pretty non digital ephemera), and hit home the point that you need to think carefully about doing digital. It’s not always necessary. Fitness for purpose.
  • How much money do you have? And what timescales do you have to play with
  • Brief writing, shortlisting agencies, and tendering are a faff, so it’s useful to have someone who can facilitate that for you.
  • The importance of a little black book of contacts. At the end of the day project management is 90% people management.
  • Recommendation for a project management tool: Basecamp.  Stakeholders love basecamp as a tool because they can spy on the project & get an overview, without having to be constantly updated.

Next up was Rachel and Katy from Caper.  They discussed there NESTA Digital R&D project Happenstance.  It was really nice to hear a bit more about another one of the Digital R&D projects (I work on the Social Interpretation project also part of this fund).

  • Being Appropriately Agile in a cultural environment
  • The importance of individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Happenstance focused on the potential of people and what happens when you put digital thinking at the heart of cultural organisations.
  • How to make seemingly small digital advances and upskilling in certain areas which will improve the overall running of organisations.

Up last was Chris Unitt from Made Media, who discussed project management from an agency perspective.

  • It’s about picking your battles, when you are choosing clients to work with.
  • Project Management methodology, whether its waterfall or agile, need to suit the type of project and type of organisation.
  • Some good project management tools: Basecamp, email, google docs, google calendar, ichat, skype.
  • Never underestimate the power of face to face meetings.  Even if it’s just a quick 5 minute catch up.
  • Chris highlighted Warwick Arts Centre as a nice example.

All in all a very nice night.

Update:  Chris has blogged his notes check them out for a bit more detail.

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