The title may be Project Manager, but the role is more that of People & Pipeline Magician, Peace Manager and Prosperity Maker. The Project Manager acts as the face and voice of the modern digital agency – making their role both extremely important and highly challenging. On one side, they ensure their clients are happy and that their business goals are being fulfilled; on the other, they manage internal resources and personnel to meet profitability goals and complete jobs on time. The balancing act between these two missions is crucial. Often times, compromises must be made on each side to stay on budget, deliver within scope and meet target deadlines. So if you want to be a great PM in a fast-moving digital agency, the challenge is real. But the rewards of the position are well worth the effort! To increase your chances for success, we encourage you to follow these 5 steps:
1. Plan, plan, plan.
There’s nothing worse than a reactive PM. Being unprepared makes you and your team look disinterested and lazy, and your clients will easily lose trust in your judgement. Being proactive, on the other hand, will prove that you’re the right person to guide and deliver a successful project. Creating a stakeholder plan, communication plan and project plan will not only show your client that you’re following PMI’s processes, it will also put you on the path to client trust and buy-in.
2. Trust your own judgement and experience.
When you’ve been project managing in a digital agency for 3+ years, you’ll have enough experience to trust your judgement and make firm decisions on scope, schedule and budgets. The most detrimental area within a PM’s purview can be a lack of decisiveness. Remember, you’re the point person and the buck stops with you. If an item is not within scope, it should not be included in the project (unless there’s a solid business case and a longer timeline/higher budget is approved). If the project is going to take 4 weeks, don’t promise the client you’ll get it done in 3 weeks (without either an increase in budget or a decrease in grade). In the end, you make the tough decisions.
3. Be proactive.
As the leader, integrator and gatekeeper, you always need to be 3 steps ahead. You lead the internal team, keep their morale high and make sure they have everything they need to be successful. Your attention to detail is critical to following the plan and you make sure all of the stakeholders are fulfilling requirements whenever necessary. And last but not least, you communicate project status regularly to make sure your project is on track, on budget and on schedule.
4. Go the extra mile.
The difference between being a good PM or a great one is often the amount of effort you’re willing to put in. The best PMs always go the extra mile for their clients. They act as teachers to their clients, providing strategic direction, sharing opportunities and not holding back from making recommendations that can take their client’s business to the next level.
5. Have fun!
By all means, have fun with your clients! No one wants a disengaged PM. Enthusiasm is contagious, so spread the fun around! Be the change you want to see in the digital world!