Thursday, July 22, 2010

Time Management

No, I'm not talking about a new game design here (for once). I'm talking about actual time management - which in itself is something of a game.

Over the past decade I've done some Project Management as an Engineer, in particular at my old job with Schneider and Associates. Lately I've been trying to apply my Project Managing experience to Tasty Minstrel Games and impart some of my time management wisdom unto Mikey, who (no offense) appears not to have had to do any of that before.

Mike is an eternal optimist, which is probably a good thing. Maybe we're a good team because I am more of a pessimist. In any case, when an optimist doesn't have scheduling experience it's easy to see how they expect phrases like "as quickly as possible" to carry a lot of weight. In my experience this becomes more and more true as the optimist in question is more and more ego-centric, it's easy to think that people you are subcontracting are only working on your project and ignore whatever other realities may exist. Note: I'm not specifically talking about Mike here, I know a number of people like that!

In the professional world however, phrases like "as quickly as possible" mean absolutely nothing. In order to really manage a project, scheduling must be much more specific than that. The reality is that subcontractors are NOT only concerned with your projects, they have other priorities as well (professional and personal). If you ask someone to finish something "as quickly as possible," and another client asks for something "to be done by Friday," and Thursday rolls around... which project do you think they will work on? The one someone is expecting the next day? Or the one with the nebulous time frame? "As quickly as possible" in that case literally becomes "after this other project which actually has a deadline!"

When Mike started Tasty Minstrel Games, I was excited to be a small part of it. I didn't really think I knew much about running a business, I was really in it for the creative aspect of game development. As time goes on, I'm finding that my Project Management knowledge could really help more efficiently bring games to market, and so I've been putting a lot of thought into scheduling and the processes involved in that. As an engineer, my job (and my general preference) is to find better or more efficient ways to do things, and so I'm naturally inclined to try and find a better way to go about publishing board games. Without being in charge of actually talking to the manufacturers, I think I can still help by getting down scheduling, so we can have time lines and deadlines which will help us reach target street dates for upcoming games.'

Hopefully these thoughts will be realized in the near future and Tasty Minstrel will operate more professionally and efficiently, making it easier to bring fun games to the hands of our fans!

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