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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast TannerCreative's Avatar
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    how to manage a growing web design company

    I am very curious to hear how you web design company owners manage 10, 15, 20+ projects at once. Sure you hire people, or contract out, but it can get to be quite a mess! I have a client who calls several times a day, and still others email me several times a day. How do you all keep everything straight? I'd LOVE to hear your input!

  2. #2
    SitePoint Guru hifigrafix's Avatar
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    Basecamp surely helps a lot. If you're dealing with that many projects it's safe to say that you need to hire at least 1 if not 2 other people and delegate some of the administration out to them.

    When you work with a big number of projects you naturally will need to build extra production time into each project to allow plenty of time for each one.

    Hire a secretary and put them in charge of project management (collecting assets, answering questions, fielding emails, time tracking, milestone accountability) and hire someone to do the book-keeping and sales - since you're going to be spending all of your time on development and design you can't be bothered with the logistics of running a business. If you prefer the admin side - hire a good designer/developer to take over the design work.

    No matter what - getting organized is key and having a tool like basecamp allows you to have a paper trail of every to-do, milestone, contact etc... in one nice and neat place.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Guru hifigrafix's Avatar
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    ps - I fully encourage clients to post "Project Releated" correspondance on basecamp as a message/comment/to-do and use my email strictly for new business and non-project related matter. Also - anyone involved with the project can chime in and answer if need be - keeping 5 minutes of my attention span on the project and off of babysitting.

    Email can get confusing, lost, deleted or not even show up in the first place - but with an online tool it's much harder to do.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Enthusiast TannerCreative's Avatar
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    Do you find that your clients mind using BaseCamp? I have tried something similar and many simply hate doing that - they just want to call or email.

    Another thing ... I sometimes do work for web company A. Here is what happens ...

    client asks web company A about something in the project
    web company A asks me about what their client asked about.
    I ask my programmer.
    programmer tells me
    i tell web company A
    web company A tells their client.

    how do you resolve things such as that? I would love to document everything but can see how quickly it can become a nightmare!

  5. #5
    SitePoint Evangelist sysice's Avatar
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    If they call or email, then I would suggest that someone enters it into BaseCamp. It would still help you organize things on your end. Maybe you can offer some encentive for people to use it.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Guru hifigrafix's Avatar
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    Excellent question Tanner - When we first started using basecamp it was very tempting to tell clients - "then just send me an email" - then we'd have clients calling "Did you get my email. blah blah blah..." and this was taking up valuable time and usually the client would hit you with 4 or 5 questions while they've got you on the phone.

    The solution to the clients that had struggles with basecamp - organize a project leader on the clients end. Teach them exactly how to interact with basecamp and stress to them how important it is to use for project related correspondence. I actually include a little clause in my agreement that any logistical communications are to be made available on basecamp or they are not to be considered.

    It's a really intuitive program (and I've used a few others that are good as well).

    If I catch a client habitually emailing or calling about things I quickly remind them about the P.M.S and resend their credentials etc... Been using it for 6+ months now and not too many complaints.

    jw

  7. #7
    SitePoint Guru hifigrafix's Avatar
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    speak of the devil... I just found a link to this on ****. The Omni group are launching their own project management software in 3 days. I'm a huge fan of their other apps - so I expect great things from this one:

    http://blog.omnigroup.com/2006/07/21...nger-a-secret/

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
    beley's Avatar
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    Good project management will save your hide. We have anywhere between 10 and 20 projects going at a time. They range from small changes to a site to large custom development. We do most of the work in-house and contract out what we can't handle.

    I use Basecamp project management software, which I think is awesome. It's not cheap but if you're on a real budget crunch, some guys made a near clone with PHP called activeCollab. I've checked it out but haven't installed it yet so I'm not sure how it stacks up.

    The rest is pure old-fashioned time management... there are tons of books you could read to learn how to better manage your time (and priorities). My favorite is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

  9. #9
    A Smarter Way to Web! zivo's Avatar
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    Post Managing emails

    Here are my suggestions on managing emails:

    * Have a separate email account for business from your personal - this may be obvious, but many people don't do this!

    * Save all of your email messages, both incoming and outgoing - it is a great CYA, and even with other systems, it is important to keep the small stuff.

    * Manage your inbox to zero - many people keep a ton of emails in your inbox, I don't! My inbox is mostly a "to-do" list - I either read and respond or simply file emails. That way I keep things clean, and have a searchable database of my interactions with clients.

    mp/m

  10. #10
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Read '7 habits' and learn about effective project management tools. Don't hire a secretary to be a project manager, though
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

    SAGEWING LLC - QUALITY WEB AND MOBILE APPS. PREMIUM OUTSOURCING SERVICES.
    Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook | Google+

  11. #11
    SitePoint Member sbell22's Avatar
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    Consider GTD too

    In addition to '7 Habits', you may want to check out GTD, the "Getting things done" methodology. It is more bottoms-up oriented than 7 Habits (no affiliation, just a user since Feb 2001):

    http://www.davidco.com (David Allen's site - he's the originator/Godfather of GTD)
    http://www.43folders.com (Merlin Mann's discussion site).

    there are two books by David Allen, and MANY other "GTD" sites, software applications, etc. GTD can be implemented using anything from a pencil and paper, up to the most sophisticated PIM platforms. In Lotus Notes; Outlook, Echo; on PDA's/smartphones; etc. (there are many approaches).

    Technical types in particular, seem to like this approach to organization projects, workflow, email, etc. It's been a godsend for me.

    -steve


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