Exhibition Project Management – an Introduction
Congratulations you have pitched for a job a won it. But now what? What is the best way to get the job done, and make sure that the whole team are working together?
Once a brief has been established, it is then the task of the project manager to assertain how the team will be able to achieve it.
The first stage is the planning process. Here the project manager will need to delegate roles to the members of the team, define their objectives and determine the key tasks that they will undertake.
It is imperative that all tasks assigned are documented and that all involved are clear about what outcomes are expected and their ability to achieve them in any given timescale.Project Managers should be well acquainted with the particular skills of each member of the team and be able to assign tasks appropriately.
Projects in the exhibition and architectural visualisation industry can be very complex, so the ability to break them down into managable bite-sized chunks is vital. Using a “Work breakdown structure” or “WBS” is a good visual way of representing these tasks. It is much like a family tree with the objective at the top and all the tasks necessary to achieve it underneath grouped into the areas of responsibility of the members of the team. The larger the project the larger the structure of the WBS.
Each different level of the WBS is often given a name such as Phase, Activity, or Task. These names will vary between organisations, but it is important to be consistent when referring to them.
With some of our more complex exhibition and installation jobs, it has been necessary to split some of the tasks into completely seperate sub-projects. Treating them as almost seperate design jobs which will only be merged back into the overall scheme further down the line. these tasks can often include jobs not necessarily familiar with your teams normal output and may very well be the types which may need to be outsourced. However it will still be someones job to make sure that these task are not only delegated but also completed to the required timeframe and budget.
Don’t take on too much yourself! If you try to do too much yourself you may become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. You will be over-worked, over-stressed, and shown to be the weakest link in the chain, highlighting your inabilities to plan accordingly. Likewise by passing too much of the workload to other collegues you then run the risk of over-working them to the point of tension and resentment.
This method of working, although potentially time-consuming to set-up will pay dividends through increased productivity and the system can then be applied to future assignments. Projects tend to be more unsuccesfull when not properly planned out.
It is very common for there to be changes to the brief, but when properly mapped out, the WBS can be altered and tweaked to incoroprate these unforseen and often last minute alterations.
Remember if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Good Luck!
Matthew Theobald has been involved in the architectural design and visualization industries since studying industrial design in the UK and Italy. He is now a superfly pimp working at Exhibition Display Solutions in Maidenhead