As a freelance web designer or developer, you typically don't have the luxury of relying on a dedicated project manager--you are your one and only resource.
As a freelance web designer or developer, you typically don't have the luxury of relying on a dedicated project manager—you are your one and only resource. Because you are your own teammate, it may not seem all that necessary to employ any particular methodology to the way you work. You can just address issues as they come up, right? This approach may work for smaller projects, but as your workload increases, things can get can out of hand pretty quickly if you don't pay attention to your project management processes.You should create a project management structure, even if it is a mix and match system, that will keep you on task, on budget and on your client's good side. For a freelancer, it is best to pull certain principles from the most major project management methodologies.
Let's take a brief look at two of the most common methodologies used in project management, Agile and Waterfall, and assess how these can help clear a pathway for the freelance web designer.
Waterfall is considered the traditional method. The scope is clearly defined at the beginning, and the process works like stepping stones—completing one phase before jumping to the next one. It is a steady and well documented process. The Waterfall method creates a solid road map for the duration of the project. It doesn't, however, take into account diversions or setbacks that can often arise. This can cause a project to go on much longer than anticipated, with additional costs not expected at the onset.
An Agile project evolves not through phases like the Waterfall method, but through sprints of time called iterations, lasting between one to four weeks. Each iteration works like a mini project. Specific small teams start to work on a certain aspect of the project at the same time, creating a live version of the client's project within one of these iterations. The developers/creatives can then manhandle their work in a functional form and go back to the drawing board if necessary. This method can product a working version very quickly, but can also lead to excessive iterations, leaking more time and money than intended by choosing this route.
From the get-go, Waterfall may seem like the more natural choice for a freelance project.
Agile has been touted and much loved for its ability to deliver a product in a short period of time, but this may or may not be feasible when you are a one-man team.
Pulling certain aspects from either Agile or Waterfall methodologies can help create a solid working structure for your freelance business, but it is also helpful to have some basic project management components in the bag.
Project management methodologies are helpful tools, even for the freelancer web designer, to put you on the right track to meet the expectations of your clients.
Co-founder and Creative Partner at Station Four