Project Manager or Exhibition Designer?

It happens to me time and time again. I’m brought into a project as an exhibition designer and the scope slowly expands into what looks suspiciously like project management.

Before I know it, I’m pounding out spreadsheets and running reports, rather than dreaming, drawing and creating.

Why does this happen?

In an earlier post, I wrote about the collaborative nature of exhibition design. Given all the inputs that an exhibition designer juggles, they generally have access to most of – if not all of – the information about a project.

This coordination role is the reason that a certain amount of exhibition design naturally butts its way into project management activities. Designers often become the designated keepers of “master lists.” They are also instrumental in developing the budgets and schedules that keep an exhibition on track.

In fact, for smaller teams with limited resources, the designer and the project manager are often one and the same. This is in addition to any other random roles they might play (we’ve all been there).

With larger projects that have the luxury of a dedicated project manager, there always a risk of overlapping responsibilities. Early in the process, the PM and the designer ought to divvy up the various project deliverables. Depending on the individuals involved, the breakdown of responsibilities could vary from project to project.

No matter the size of your project, it’s a good idea to discuss with your exhibition designer how much project management they are required to do. You want to make sure that no tasks are duplicated… or worse, over looked. The last thing you want to hear the day before a deadline is, “I thought you were doing that!”