Studio Franco Design Project and Print Production Management Service. Bracknell. U.K.

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The following is based on real events. Only the actual names of the individuals involved and specific locations where they occured, have been changed.
Details of where to find these individuals is available following the deposit of a sum of money.
How much, how and where to deposit to, are supplied at the end of this article.

Project/Production Manager:  (n)~ 1. That component of any large endeavor that forms the choke-point between euphoric, unfettered fantasy and the harsh reality of Clocks, Machines, Materials and People.
2. The person in overall charge of the planning and execution of a particular project

The Project/Production Manager  is the individual tasked with the over-seeing, and the realization of an ego-maniacal bull-shit project, that is butressed by the techo-babble hocus-pocus fever dreams of the designers, as sold by the chief bullshit artists who are variously referred to as "Account Executives" or "Sales & Marketing Executives".

The Project Manager is That Devil WITH All
The Details

My Shiny Wife jokes: "You Left The Army - But The Army Never Left You!"
I never noticed that aspect of myself, until writing content for this page:

Production Director
• Direct production programs within agency or company
• Manage staff and systems of production departments
• Oversee information and cost management
• Develop, maintain and enable standards processes and policies consistent with company interests. Advanced, broad-scope technical and industry knowledge
• Communications and managerial skills
• 25 years experience

Design Production Manager
Manage production of a variety of projects in both design studio and web production studio
• Duties include project planning, workflow management, vendor negotiations, print buying, cost control, quality control, logistical coordination and print media checks
• Interact with traffic coordinators and print buyers; may manage small design studio
• Have expertise in both analog and digital technologies
• Have solid knowledge of four-color printing process
• Did my 3 year apprenticeship in the Gravure Print industry
• Able to pre-flight, collect files and archive materials
• Familiar with design software applications and project management experience
• 30 years experience

Moses production commandments

"Take Two of These - And Call Me in The Morning. Have NICE Day!"
Moses' production commandments.

How a Production Manager Ranks: Range of Skills Scale. Source: iCombine. Competency profile - Level 5

Production Manager competency profile

Many People Miss Opportunity, Because it has It's Sleeves Rolled Up -
And It Looks Like Work!

I am the Print Production or Design Project Manager who will get the Job Done - no matter what?
I am also a Realist. That is - I will NOT LIE to you.

I will tell you straight out - if your time expectations are unrealistic.
Or, that you had better be budgeting for suppliers' overtime. And breakfast and dinner bills for your staff.

Get Started Here: Download my Production Manager Resume

Design Project Manager Functions: Web Related
I have worked as Project Leader overseeing a Web Production Team, and in association with the Technical Team, to develop and test the appearance and load time of images on many monitors, operating systems, and browser types:
• Ensuring that images will look good even if the visitor's monitor display is set at 256 colors
• Based on test results, reduce image sizes and the number of images to meet pre-set maximum load times
• Produced and directed the maintenance of an annotated data-base catalog of images
• As the Project Lead - obtain signed approval for the layout and images
• Maintain an all image file "masters" These even include every separate layer of images created in Photoshop and Illustrator. Crucial - when the file is re-opened later on to make changes
• Maintain a library of all Web-ready images currently used on the site
• Maintain a reference library of all Hi-res images required for repro purposes
• Maintain a "rapid deployment" method to update or add new images
• Design and collect images for future use, in anticipation of new offerings, subjects, and sections
• Ensured that all images are owned by the company thus avoiding future copyright problems
• 20 years experience

Studio Production Manager
• Responsible for the general management of a graphic design studio
• Liase between Studio and Account Executives / Production Manager / Traffic Coordinator
• Duties included reviewing designers schedules
• Keeping studio job flow board up to the minute - even when the management could be bothered to read it
• Establishing internal design project goals
• Assigning projects to ensure smooth work flow
• Prepping and distributing detailed project schedules
• Quality control standards
• Signing off release of projects as necessary
• Excellent communication and organizational ability
• 30 years experience

Design Studio Traffic Coordinator
• Coordinate scheduling, processing and trafficking of creative projects
• Liaison between clients, outside vendors and agency departments
• Coordinate efficient and timely creative project processing
• Responsible for creating project schedules and job estimates
• Maintaining records of action and work flow on projects
• Routing projects to approval
• Oversee efficient flow of work from account services to creative and production departments
• Develop project schedules that keep Management out of meddling with the system to suit their whims
• Tracking and monitoring progress, routing projects and conducting traffic meetings
• Excellent organizational skills, ability to multi-task, eye for detail
30 years experience

I am familiar with enough tools: Graphics / Page Layout software, to do just about anything.
Preferably - I direct others, by asking, pleading, instructing and finally, threats of main force, to get the job done.

Other 'Soft' Skills

• Executive Hatchet-man
• Mind Reader
• General Dog's-body
• Chief Cook and Bottle-Washer
• Corporate Assassin
• Herding Cats
• Tea-leaf Divination
• Maintaining Plausible Deniability
• Bullet Dodging
• Calling Down Fire and Brimstone

The Chief Tools of a Production/Project Manager are:

• The Calendar
• The Clock
• The Critical-Path spread sheet
• The Contingency Buffer. (More about this later)
(IF anyone tries to tell you different - give THEM the job of Project Manager.
They will soon come around).

These Tools must be used wisely and constantly, to:
• Introduce the occasional sense of mild Panic
• Maintain the threat level of "Dead Line" - Every hour of every day
• Induce an element of Lingering FEAR at every Project Meeting
• Wield the Voice of The Almighty

Be prepared at any instant - to THREATEN to pass on the Mantle & Baton to anyone who complains: "Here you go - it is all yours", always works.

Soft Skills Chart

There are only TWO Rules for Production/Project Managers

Keep the Tools SHARP, and handy - And use them every day, at every instant where some "clever" individual tries some
Dumb-Fuckery with the Critical Path.

Or if a self-centred Exec engages in a delusional, halluinatory pipe-dream where printing companies
or other service providers will work overtime and week-ends, without billing extra on the job.

Keep your Contingency Buffer A SECRET.  Failing to do this will be your undoing.
Auf Wiedersehen and Sayonara, Production Manager!

REMEMBER: The Project Manager is Second after God, who, in a Production Managers life, is "Chronos", the Greek God of "Time".

Nemesis  is a goddess that you, as a Production Manager, must also be aware of. She is in the Race with you.
She will enact retribution against those who succumb to hubris and arrogance before the Gods.
Nemesis ALWAYS WINS! You just have to decide - by how much

The Contingency Buffer Explained

If you are new to the Production / Project Manager role, or planning to become one, this will be your life and arse saver.

The Critical Path Contains everything from the first pencil sketch to the final delivery at the Clients’ office.

Forget about “The Ten Commandments”. Forget about any Book that is the foundation of your religious beliefs.

The Critical Path breaks reputations and careers. If you want to keep yours – The Critical Path is your ONLY Belief System – UNTIL the Project is over.

Imagine that the Critical Path is similar to a rail road line, a freeway construction or a building construction.

Remember: Once you have created the Critical Path and passed it on to Management and Creative –
• Making changes because you screwed up is embarrassing.
• Making changes because of someone else’s dumb-fuckery has to be kept in check.

This can be done by immediately pointing out Time and Cost Over-Runs.
NOT by acquiescing – and “seeing what I can do about that”.
But by immediately dumping the baby / hot potato / fresh turd, in their lap.

Unless there is a crucial, and valid reason for making changes to the Critical Path, get those changes IN WRITING. And signed off by the parties requesting the change.
And all those downstream that are affected by the changes.

ENSURE that the changes are Marked Up on the Critical Path.
There is NO Version 2.0
There is ONLY Version 1.0 – which includes the changes and the names of the parties responsible for the changes. This is your bullet-proof vest. Your get-out-of-jail card. Your Saving Grace.
Your first choice – and last hope.

If you Do Not LIKE this concept. You are choosing the wrong career.
Get out now, while your skin is still in one piece.

Speed-Cost-Quality Venn Diagram Production Manager's First Consideration

This is a Venn Diagram. It is describing 'something'.
If you do not immediately grasp what that 'something' is, this is your opportunity to walk away now.

If you look at this and and immediately think of an alternative way of bending this reality, your career as Production Manager is already a shish kebab. It just has not been put on the fire yet.

Build Time INTO Your Critical Path

First – Insert your Contingency Buffer
Depending upon the duration of the Production - this should be between Two (MINIMUM) and Five days.
These days can later be 'distributed' about in the Timeline.
They can be used up in the Print and Delivery phases. With just One (or Two) day/s clearly marked as "Contingency".
This will make you look PROFESSIONAL.

This/these day/s can be placed at the 'Briefing' or 'Design / Creative' phase.
These groups are always late anyway.
Plagued as they are with interference by The Fuck-up Fairy.

Benefit of the Contingency Buffer: Everything will 'appear' to run smoothly, and You will look good.

Second – The THREE Do Not's

• Do NOT include week-ends and Public Holidays in your time-line.
Unless you have cleared this with your Repro or Production supplier.
They will be billing YOU for THEIR time.
There is No Free Lunch.

• Do NOT try to make your Critical Path fit your company’s expectations.
The company wants everything tomorrow. Or by Friday.

It is YOUR JOB to dissuade them of this notion.

• Do NOT include OVER-TIME in your time-line.
Management have to come to terms with 'paying the piper'.
Give No Quarter.

Decoration for your Office

Download a Printable Version Here

Now –The Do’s

Adding days onto your Print run

• If you have had to order a special paper - Add an extra day onto your Print run. Trucks break down when you are relying on them the most.

• Watch the weather. If it is the rainy season - Add an extra day for ink drying.
I do not care what you think about this. I promise. When that day arrives – you will thank me.

• If you are not going to be at the factory to OK and sign off on the Color Proof’s - Add an extra day onto your Print run.
No one will keep machines idle while a delivery driver does a circuit across the city.
Or, if they do, they will be billing you for the time.
You booked the machines. If they are not printing – That Is On You! The bill is coming To You!

• When your Repro or Production supplier gives you a delivery date - Add an extra day onto your Print run.
Trucks break down when you are relying on them the most.

How Production Projects Really Work

How Production Projects Really Work (V1.5) If You Are Not Careful

Familiarity Breeds Attempts to By-pass Reality:  Everyone tries to put one over on the Production Manager. Do not fall for these tricks.

Fall-Out Management 101: Differences between Production Management and Project Management

What are the differences between these two functions? Hardly any.
So I will just mention them briefly.

Production Management is a small “in-house” operation happening at any Design or Advertising house.
Project Management is a massive undertaking utilising the skills of multiple out-sourced teams and individuals.

Production Management is an ongoing, daily function
Project Management exists only for the lifetime of the Project.
After which, all participants go their own way. Off to the next Project.

Production Management  exists in a contained environment. Disaster fallout is limited to the company and the client.
It would barely make it into one of the many trade tabloids. Depending on how many heads get to roll.
Project Management  exists in the public environment.
Disaster fallout is uncontainable as events unfold in the media, and careers are publicly terminated.
The optics of collapsing bridges and people perishing in high-rise fires do NOT look good on your CV.

This does it. Everything you need to know.
Now run along and apply for that Production Manager job.

About Studio Franco

Saffron Road
RG12 7BS
RG12 7BS

Design Freelance

My Mobile: +44 799 011 3314
WhatsApp: +27 76 129 9265

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Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday
08:00 - 17:00
Over-Time Rates Apply