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Creative Projects vs. Technical Projects: What are they? And How do you run them?

Project managers are often faced with three types of projects: technical, creative, or a combination of both. Each project requires a different approach and requires separate teams to design and build the technical features and requirements. For example, a website build requires both a creative, visual component (such as branding and interface design) as well as a technical backend. Each project requires different roles and teams.
Creative Projects vs. Technical Projects
Creative Projects
Creative projects are unique in that they focus on a visual experience. This means that users or audiences see, hear, and interact with the project. Creative projects include product animations, 3D printing, marketing videos, and a company rebrand.
These types of projects are rare in that:
They have unique visual deliverables that can be revised multiple times before finalizing and approval.
They are led by a Creative director who manages a creative staff and makes final decisions about deliverables before they are presented for clients.
The creative pace is slower. There are many options and variations to consider, which are then narrowed down into the final product.
The creative team is flexible in what they produce, and follows a project timeline based upon estimates. This is more often managed using the waterfall method.
Deliverables will require client interaction and multiple rounds of feedback from various stakeholders to be included in future drafts and versions.
Read more: 6 Reasons why you need a creative team for your project
Technical Projects
A technical project is different than a creative project because it focuses on the technical build of a feature set that performs an operation or changes to an existing one. This could be something that the end user interacts with, or it may only affect the backend. Technical projects include BI applications, CMS migrations, new business software, and an upgrade to the email system infrastructure. They often involve application development, multiple rounds of quality control and user acceptance testing before being released.
These are some additional features for technical projects:
Deliverables are more functional than visual and may not be visually appealing. For example, the creation of a back end database, middleware connection of system, and front-end-code-based experiences.
Scrum Master manages an agile team consisting of engineers and developers in a defined, fast-paced development environment.
Structured project environment that allows for specific requirements to be met within a defined timeframe.
Functionality and features either work or don’t. This is determined by extensive testing.
Feedback can be provided through data collection, use cases, or pilot launches.
Client interaction is minimal to non-existent until the deliverable is released for further testing and/or use.
Read more: What is the difference between Scrum Master and Project Manager?
These Projects Are Similar?
Both technical and creative projects share a similar approach to deliverables. Interface, prototype, beta, and gold builds are for creative projects, while iterations of functionality and features are for technical projects. Both types of projects require thorough testing and review, as well as approval from multiple stakeholders.
Corporate culture can also impact the success or failure both types of projects through budgets, change requests and prioritization. There are also differences in leadership opinions on scope alignment.
How to manage a hybrid team successfully
Many hybrid projects include both a creative component and a technical component. This gives project managers multiple teams to manage and different “languages to speak”. This can be achieved through careful planning, communication and collaboration with t