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Art of Project Management

Posted @ 5:52 pm by Robert Balmaseda | Category: Strategy, Web Development Process | 1 Comment

Glorified coordinator? Clipboard master? List-keeper? Cat herder?

We are all of those things and more. In most agencies, the role of the Project Manager is simply to keep the team on task and the client updated. For the digital agency of today to truly excel, however, PMs need to be so much more.

The role of a PM in a brand/technology firm is to combine the expertise and experiences of the project manager at traditional marketing/advertising agencies, management consultancies and software development companies with the knowledge and unique perspective of what the web is and what it means to consumers. The success in defining this role, hiring great talent and growing the team creates not only value for the agency but for the client and ultimately the consumer.

At SolutionSet, the project management role is built on this blended model. A project manager is expected own the client relationship, run the project, understand the technology/environment and bring their own knowledge and expertise to the mix. The depth of their responsibilities and the level of their autonomy are commensurate with their seniority within the organization. A description of each role is found below:

Client Management:

Ultimately, each Client Owner/Account Director is responsible for their book of business and the clients which comprise it. In delivering solutions to their clients, a Client Owner/Account Director is supported by the project management team. The PM is expected to manage all day-to-day interactions with the client and to be on point for all client needs and issues. As a PM grows within the organization, they will begin to manage aspects of the client relationship beyond project management. These tasks vary with the client and the relationship but include advising on marketing and digital strategies, up-selling projects and ensuring that all aspects of the SolutionSet offerings are brought to bear for the client. The SolutionSet Client Owner/Account Director is ultimately responsible and always remains available as an escalation point, but the PM owns the client as they grow with the organization.

Technology:

One must understand the product one is delivering. In too many agencies, the teams don’t know what a website is, let alone what it means to strategize, build or own one. The PM must understand at the core what the web is and what the underlying technologies and architectures are that comprise it. Each PM should have:

The PM is not meant to be the Technology or Creative Lead on the project, but they must understand the product and how the teams build it. This foundational knowledge allows them to deliver.

Knowledge/Consulting:

The fun of our space is that it is yet to be formally stratified. True, there are great formal Project Management courses and methodologies, but there is still room for talented people of all backgrounds to jump in. Most of the best PM’s I have worked with did not go to school to become a PM, but came to it through website production, entertainment, design, technology, etc. It is not simply the skills, but the mindset. This varied background is of tremendous value to an agency, as the PM can bring their experiences and knowledge to bear to influence client strategies and project tactics.

Project Management:

As the lead projects, a SolutionSet PM is expected to be an accomplished Project Manager. This includes understanding the vision/scope of the project, project/task planning and scheduling, project documentation, project reports (daily task, weekly summary, closing, etc.), resource management, scrum-master, deliverables review (creative through technical), team redirect, client communication, QA, documentation, project launch, client case-study/consent, billing reports, and more. These are the day-to-day tasks, but the impact comes in being the locus of information for all that is happening on the project. The PM must understand the SolSet Methodology and how to wield it on the project. They must understand the nuances influencing their teams and their client as they have little direct control. They must understand how to remain calm while all of Rome burns; this grace under fire is what sets the great PM aside from those who are merely adequate. They must embrace their role and learn how to derive learnings from their success as well as failures.

This is the Art of Project Management.

One thought on “Art of Project Management

  1. Jeff Cortez says:

    Great article! I am an interactive producer at an advertising agency and I am finding that my role is much more than a producer but more of a mix between producer, project manager and account executive. With the web what it is like you stated, the broader skillset benefits a project manager or the ‘all-up’ view.

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