Project Management and Multimedia Design and Production

This chapter was designed to bring knowledge and experience to the field of Multimedia development. In particular, the intent of the chapter is to explore, bring to the surface, and explain some of the current issues pertaining to Multimedia development and Project Management.

The key issues of this chapter are as follows:An introduction to the the field of project management;


An Introduction To Project Management

Project management is a concept that most people know something about. Without realizing it, we are all project managers in everyday life. Any task or job that we undertake as human beings requires at least some project management, otherwise it would not get done. In basic terms, we assess what needs to be accomplished and what steps need to be taken. Next we choose the tools for the job, and assess the time needed to complete it.

Surveying the Project Management landscape, one discovers that there are similarities in all project management models. A generic model can be assembled and a basic model can be used for any and all project management tasks. This Chapter will briefly discuss that generic model’s components, later; they will be refined to deal with multimedia issues. The basic project management model has four phases of implementation; they are the conceptualization phase, the planning phase, the execution phase, and the termination phase. Each phase has a number of components or tasks associated with it. Each of these tasks must be addressed sequentially in order for the model to function effectively.

In the conceptualization phase, which is the first phase, the first task is to identify need, that is to establish that the project is required and what the final requirement is. The second task is to establish feasibility, or can the project attain its goal without too much time, effort and financial outlay. Next the project manager must identify the alternatives, and weigh the costs associated with each against their effectiveness. A proposal must be prepared to inform the client of the project’s parameters and limitations, and then a basic budget and schedule can be prepared. The final task in the conceptualization phase is to identify the project team, selecting the most effective people for the job.

The planning phase will require a higher level of effort. A schedule must be implemented to begin the planning phase. After the schedule is implemented, the project team begins conducting studies and analyses. This will establish the framework of the project, and supply information. Once the research has been assembled, a system can be designed. From there, the project team begins to build and test prototypes of the project. Once the results of these tests have been analyzed, approval for production is obtained, and one final model is chosen.

We are now at the peak of our level of effort, the execution phase begins. Materials necessary for implementation must be procured, and the relevant tools must be developed and tested. Support requirements must be developed, and the system must be produced. Once the results of the system implementation have been verified, and modified as necessary, we enter the termination phase.

The termination phase begins with the training of functional personnel, the ones who will maintain the system after it is in place. Once the maintenance personnel are in place, they will be transferred relevant materials, and subsequently, responsibility for the system performance. At this point all relevant resources will be released, and project team members will be reassigned. The project has now become a self-sustaining system.

Figure 1 shows the four phases of the generic project management model. Phases 1 and 4, conceptualization and termination, are the least labor intensive while phases 2 and 3, planning and execution, require the most effort.

Project Management models help to organize our thoughts and schedule necessary events to make projects run more smoothly. If you think about it, these models are fairly common sense rules organized and clarified to facilitate our thought processes.

As was said before, Project Management is a vital part of every day life, if you take these everyday occurrences of Project Management and extrapolate on them, this, as well as many other generic models begin to materialize. It sounds like an important term, and it is, it’s just that we all are project managers everyday.


The Human Component

The human component in the design and production of multimedia materials is a large and therefore an important component. These type of projects very labour intensive, requiring the efforts of large numbers of knowledgeable, skilled, artistic, imaginative and creative people. Because of this, the importance of the human component is inordinately large in the project management process and, as such, it plays a significant part in the successful completion of any multimedia design and production project. The quality of the finished product depends on the best management of the human component.

The following is an outline of the important concepts involving the management of the human component in multimedia design and production projects.

Nature of projects from the human perspective:

Project Control:

Characteristics of the human component in multimedia projects includes:

Important concepts in people management:

Components of project management leadership:

The project manager manages the human component to ensure:

Techniques in people management:

Participatory planning is good:

Attributes of the effective group:

Creating a good working and learning environment is important and achieved by:

Building and maintaining good channels of communications to:

Contrary to popular belief, there are some benefits to poor communications. They are:


Chaos Theory In Project Management

This theory involves the management of projects in a non-linear way. This is in keeping with the new holistic paradigms. There are four elements for managing projects in the non-linear or chaotic framework.

Initial Area of Order

Learning Environment

Channels of Communication

Evolution

For more information, visit the following World Wide Web site:

The Uses of Chaos Theory in Project Management


Managing Multimedia Design Projects

Producing effective Multimedia is a very challenging task which involves several people, several steps, a definite financial commitment, and normally a final product or deliverable. In other words, there are usually several steps and processes, which need to take place in order to successfully produce multimedia.

This section deals primarily with Project Management Techniques and the techniques are customized from the generic project management schema and used to design, develop, and produce multimedia products.

Multimedia Production involves a series of processes and it can be best described as a team effort. The Project Manager is the catalyst and coordinator of the project, managing all resources and overseeing the progress of the design and development team. Some of the key people in multimedia development are the following:

The Project Manager

The project manager is the person who coordinates the entire development of the multimedia project and is ultimately the person responsible for quality of the final product, allocation of funds, and the time management of the project. In order to be a successful project manager of these "multi-faceted" activities, a clear understanding of the team's roles and responsibilities are essential. Additionally, a solid understanding of Project Management Techniques are also critical.

Key Activities of a Multimedia Project Manager

Brief Descriptions of the Key Players in Multimedia Development

Subject Matter Experts (SME's):

These people are critical to the validity of the content of the Multimedia. They should be used to provide content expertise advice toward the development of the product. SME's have a stake in the project because it will reflect their degree of expertise and knowledge. SME’s don’t always have to be the client, but certainly are involved in providing the technical expertise to the content.

It is critical that the project manager obtains a valid representative sample of SME's to use on the project. The quality of the content will only be as good as the SME's expertise.

The Project Manager must ensure that the SME's are available, understand their role, and most importantly be left to provide Subject Matter Expertise only. A wise Project Manager will keep the SME's involved at this level only, allowing them to focus on content, rather on the development of the Multimedia Product.

Contract or In-house Multimedia Production Expertise

The Instructional Designer

The instructional designer is a very critical key to success for effective multimedia development. All multimedia geared towards creating a dynamic, effective learning environment must have legitimate and sound instruction design and strategy built into the program. The instructional designer or design team can consist of people from either in-house, contract, or combination of both.

The Instructional Designer is Critical Because:


Pitfalls and Areas of Caution - Lessons from Experience

To be a project manager of a multimedia production is challenging to say the least. Normally the projects are of significant profile (due to their high costs and relative newness) and there are many people interested in seeing the final product become a state-of-the-art success. People will be monitoring your progress and keenly interested in seeing your final product.

Remember that Project Management of Multimedia is a relatively new science. The project management concepts are very similar, but the frequency of people being involved or tasked to develop multimedia is increasing rapidly. Due the high cost of development, the complex "learning activity" potential of multimedia, and the strong desire by the learning and teaching community to use multimedia, the interest in this field is very much on the increase.


Additional Project Management Issues To Consider

There are three major variables in a multimedia project. They are:

There are several reasons why it is necessary to have a good project manager working on a multimedia development project. They are:

The project management is an often forgotten part of multimedia design and production. The planning factor include:

For more information, visit the following World Wide Web sites:

Producing Professional Interactive Multimedia: Project Management Issues

Michael Greer's Project Management Resources


REFERENCES

Cleland, D. (1990). Project management: strategic design and implementation. Blue Ridge Summit,PA. TAB Books.

Graham, R (1989). Project management as if people mattered. Bala Cynwyd, PA. Primavera Press.

Hayes, M. (1989). Project management: from idea to implementation. Los Altos, CA. Kogan Page.

House, R. (1988). The human side of project management. Reading, MA. Addison Wesley.

Martin, P. and Tate, K. (1997). Project management memory jogger. Methuen, MA. GOAL/QPC.


Last Update 31 Mar 97 (RL)