Project Management – Why do we NOT have time to do it right, but we always have time to do it over?
What is Project Management anyway? Tasks may vary but the principles are the same across all agencies. It doesn’t matter the medium; you have a strategy and objective; you have estimates and approvals; creative development and execution. They are the same steps in the larger picture. Project Management is a discipline that brings multiple disciplines together. A Project Manager is making sure people are doing what they should be doing when they should be doing it, and addressing issues along the way.
Principles of Project Management
1. it is all based on the Project Triangle: Scope, Time, and Cost parameters. All of these effect the Quality of a Project. The Project Manager addresses these issue which ‘tip’ this Triangle in various directions.
2. Some of the other principles are Having a Defined Process. Think about toddlers on a soccer field versus kids getting older who have learned how to play their position? One may be fun to watch, but it is certainly not effective, or profitable.
3. You need a Clear Communication of that Process. Some agencies have processes but they haven’t been properly communicated.
4. You need Clarity on Roles of Expectations
5. A department dedicated to the agency’s product (internally focus).
6. Project Managers are a Hub of Information
7. Management supported – true Project Management occurs when you have high-level manager buy in.
What are the benefits of Project Management? It is a Central Source of Information. You can find clear Direction on a Project, Schedule, etc. You are able to manage your Timelines, Scope, Budgets, etc.
Project Management – The Progressive Approach – Project Management has evolved due to the ever-changing media landscape. The industry is more focused now on collaboration. We are no longer ‘just a print ad’, or a ‘TV spot’, with the advent of social mediums. We have become a media-agnostic and cross channel industry. There are many more shared assets and elements being used. We also, now, have strategies within strategies. We have a strategy for digital, creative, media, etc. strategies that work autonomously. In conclusion, we are changing the way we get things done.
So, back to ‘Doing it right the first time around’. Have you heard of ‘Penny wise and pound foolish’? or more positively, “measure twice; cut once’. We use these because they make sense. Take a few extra steps up front and significantly reduce the chance for error. Mistakes are expensive. Process and Project management ensure a greater chance of doing the job well and doing properly. Let’s talk about the word ‘Streamlining’. People here this and immediately think that peoples and steps will be cut from the process. If you exclude people you are doing it wrong the first time around. In order to streamline, we define process so everyone follows the same rules of engagement. This is not meant to be rigid or inflexible. It’s about efficiency and consistency. Efficiency does not mean skipping steps; just putting thought into your steps the first time around. So what are the actual roles of Project Management? The keys to success are defining the roles and primary objective of each area (Traffic, Production, etc.). But keep in mind there is gray area in the agency world. So Project Management is a being a steward of the agency process versus Account Management who is a steward of the client and the client’s business. Producers are the stewards of the idea amplification and execution. Defining your roles does not mean creating an assembly line. You need to define milestones but they also have to be managed. No system can do it for you but they can add value. This is where Workamajig comes into play. It helps support our definition of roles, clarify process and create a standard protocol.
Keys to Success in Project Management
Using the right tools. For agency management, complete understanding and visible support are required for success.
Question and Answer Session (summary)
If you create process there needs to be recourse for not following process or it will not be followed. Agencies have been creative with this. One agency created a virtual dog house on digital display in their lobby for all to see. The key culture is that ‘we have roles and responsibilities; if you cannot do these things, then you are not welcome here’.
How do you handle external effects on your timeline or budget from the client? Everyone should have an understanding of your process. Clients want ‘better, faster, cheaper’. They should understand your process so that you can address when they are falling outside of it.
How do you get Account Managers from promising deadlines that cannot happen. Management must support the agency deadlines. They cannot commit while in with the client. Return to the agency and then go back to the client and present them with options. Share your schedule with clients.
How many tasks should be input to a schedule? You should use top-level data when possible. Be wary of adding too many tasks.