Project management is something I never studied or even knew about before entering the advertising business. This position is something many fall into rather than seek out, which is why a project management process is important to figure out early on.
Project management is defined by the Project Management Institute as “the application of knowledge, skills and techniques to execute projects effectively and efficiently. It’s a strategic competency for organizations, enabling them to tie project results to business goals – and thus, better compete in their markets.” The Project Manager is responsible for a project from beginning to end. He puts together all the parts and keeps the well-oiled machine moving so that clients, designers, developers, etc. have an easy time deciphering what their roles are.
The Project Management Institute classifies project management processes as five groups: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. These are the five stages of a project from a very high level. The project management process, though, can be used from that high level across any industry and any project.
In a small branding agency, like BranWorks, there may be more projects than there are PMs. This becomes a balancing act with multiple timelines and projects that each are in different stages. The project management process keeps each project in a defined area that a PM can track easily. As the project manager, I am the captain of the projects. I keep the boat moving forward at all costs and know exactly where the project is headed every second of the day. It requires a whole team to make a project come out successfully and it takes a strong PM to keep the team on course.
At BranWorks, the project management process begins with meeting and planning with the client and getting a good grasp of the projects’ goals. I must then prepare and fully comprehend the proposal that the client is signing. I make sure that no items are left behind. I then take the project internally and prepare all the necessary team members for the project they are about to begin. This planning step is crucial! The best way to iron out small details is to have all team members look through the assets provided and the proposal that was signed. They will help me identify any items that could be missing and eventually hold up the project.
From there, I keep constant communication with both the client and internal team. The project manager is a middle man (or woman) and whip cracker at this point, making sure deadlines are met and knowing the status of each and every project during this time.
The project management process ends at the closing of a project, when the client has received their final product. Then the process starts all over again with many more new projects.
Over many years, I have learned with every stumble and ball dropped how to carry a successful project. Each day I will learn something new and every so often I may find a new tool for my process. My process has to alter to fit the project, client and team members I am working with.
Project manager’s need to be flexible and good listeners. My goal each day is to do something a little more efficiently or come up with a new solution for my team. It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new or a veteran in the PM world, this industry constantly evolves. Keep the core five groups in mind but change the way the game is played. Try something new.
Gordon Conner is a brand consultant, content writer and blogger who helps clients become Category of One companies. He has been providing advertising, marketing, branding and copywriting services for 39 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com.