Back to basics

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As a producer, there are two fundamental questions you need to be able to answer:

  1. What are we doing?
  2. Do we have enough time to do it?

The second question is the key question for the producer to figure out the answer to, but you need to be properly briefed well on the first question to be able to answer the second question correctly. (Of course, if the answer to the second question is “no”, then this would need to be fed back into decisions about the first question.)

If you’re not clear about the answer to the first question, you may need to ask for more information. If more information isn’t available, you may need to make decisions or assumptions, and make those clear to the rest of the team. If you’re not certain of the answer to the second question, then you need to make it your priority to figure it out (with the help of others where necessary) because this is your key responsibility.

The level of detail at which you need to be able to answer the depends on the stage of the project:

  • At the concept development stage, it might be broad like, “Yes, it is possible to build some sort of utility app with a standard interface on one platform in 12 weeks, based on the number of people the budget allows, our previous experience and our current capacity”;
  • At the design stage, it would be more specific like, “Yes, we can design the five main interfaces to make this work and prepare the files for build within two weeks, and leave enough time to implement in the build before beta”;
  • During each week of production, it should be as specific as, “Yes, this week Joe has enough time booked to finish designing those 20 elements which we need for the different variants of this screen, and Jane is booked to address the five high-priority issues that we found testing the build.”

At the end of the day, “what are we doing” and “do we have enough time to do it” are the only questions you need to answer, and you must be able to answer them in order to do your job properly.

Also published on Medium.

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