Successful Agency Project Management

October 13, 2015 Natalie Ward

Agency life can be as frenzied as your daily commute. For a project manager, it's a crazy balancing act of creating work that makes clients happy, keeping projects profitable, and employee turnover rates low.

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But it doesn't have to be that way.

When handling clients and the tasks that drive your agency's bottom line, successful project management plays a critical role. A centralized leader that manages priorities and oversees collaboration will provide much-needed order across the agency. These benefits lead to a happier team, increased efficiency and more revenue potential. Read on for four tips for successful project management that can keep your agency at full speed and on the right road:

TIP #1 – ADDRESS SCHEDULING ISSUES HEAD-ON

To say there can be a few time and work management issues at an agency is an understatement. Sixty-three percent of marketers still receive work requests via email and 38 percent receive work requests in meetings. Without an effective way to identify priorities and manage work a lot of time is lost sorting through work requests and understanding what should be your highest priority.

Start with centralizing all work requests so there is one place to locate, track and prioritize what needs to be done. Create a standard work request form with a generic template that is customizable and is easily accessible. One way this could be done— create an alias email account, like workrequest@youragency.com.

Once you can find all your work in one place, choose a way evaluate the priority of the requests, like using a scorecard or by the importance of the requestor. You can then assign work and set some manageable timeframes for each project with a real sense of workload and time needed to execute.

TIP #2 - MONITOR HEAVY LOADS

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Another way to optimize your team's time and talent is to balance each person's strengths, abilities, and workload. Nearly 24 percent of people say their work priorities change daily, resulting in a consistent shift in their workload. The ability to complete one task may depend on another person completing a different task first.

Like bad traffic, when one car on the freeway stops, all the cars in front of you stop as well, creating delays and risks to getting to your destination on time.

Establish your role as a gatekeeper who decides how to best allocate your available resources and shift workloads when necessary. This will help minimize jams where one resource is overloaded while others wait for a green light to complete a task.

Also, consider reducing manual processes and start using a cloud-based tool that can give your team real-time status updates and better visibility into each other's workload. This can also help track time spent on a project and offer a better way to report progress to executives and clients.

TIP #3 - AVOID DERAILMENTS

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Your agency needs to clearly understand the client's expectations, yet most clients and agencies disagree on whether clients provide clear briefings to agencies. In a recent report by ANA, only 27 percent of agencies believe clients do a good job, while zero percent strongly agree. On the flip side? Fifty-eight percent of clients think they perform well on briefs.

Without really understanding your client's needs, you are bound to experience scope creep, delays in approvals, and risk the profitability of the project. Uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project once it has started will be harmful to your bottom line and your team's sanity.

Avoid these challenges by starting with a firm understanding of the goal of the project. A well-communicated client brief with an outline of their intended goal is an essential start. Be prepared to review it and refer to it throughout the project.

As you define and optimize your work processes, you will be able to avoid rework, meet client expectations, deliver on-time projects and see the benefits to your bottom line. You will also find that more structure will eliminate chaos and help focus creative energy where it needs to go.

TIP #4 – KEEP LANES OPEN

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Trying to manage a project and all its resources with e-mail or spreadsheets can be frustrating. Not to mention the challenge of locating elements of the project when you need them. In fact, seventy-one percent of organizations struggle with sharing assets between team members.

Eliminate hours of tracking down documents or finding the right version and move to file sharing online. Sixty-eight percent of CMOs have plans to increase the use of collaboration tools. Now may be the time to integrate a document asset management tool so you can centralize work, eliminate the problem of version control, and challenges associated with sharing documents.

A key step in managing multiple deadlines and projects is regular communication between project managers and team members. Plan brief, but regular, status updates to keep in touch with your team and to manage any roadblocks. These could be fifteen-minute standing meetings to avoid going too long. Then, keep project communication within a single collaboration tool so everyone can stay on the same page while navigating work in a project.

With a few improved processes, improved time management, and better visibility your team may find a little more time to be creative and actually enjoy the agency ride.

About the Author

Natalie Ward

Natalie Ward is a Content Marketing Manager on the Solutions Marketing team at Workfront with nearly a decade of experience in various marketing functions. Her background includes marketing for both business and non-profit organizations including content production, public relations, events, and brand management. When she isn’t managing content—or the schedules of her four kids—she enjoys talking with friends over delicious cuisine.

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