5 Tips for a Successful Project [from a Project Manager]
A project manager’s best work is done when no one notices they’re there. Seeing and hearing too much of a PM could be an indication that things aren’t going as planned.
Everyone wants to get a project from point A to point B with the shortest distance and least amount of resistance. And for every project, large or small, it’s a PM’s goal (and job) to get it done right. In the end, a project delivered on time and on budget is what everyone wants – the client, the PM, and all the people involved along the way.
So, here are 5 quick tips to ensure any size or type of project is as successful as possible:
- Plan ahead
A properly planned strategy can be executed quickly. Mapping out the road ahead can allow both the client and creative teams to be prepared for the work. Improperly planned projects can change direction many times, and could be costly with missed opportunities or unproductive use of time spent.
- Document it
The more insight project managers have into the client's goals, target audience and decision making process, the more likely the deliverable will meet (and exceed) expectations. Documentation (starting with the brief, thorough scope of work and functional requirements) helps guide the execution from early design phases through final QA. For example, knowing that the project’s audience will be mobile users will inform designers to accommodate for that reality, rather than to rework the project for it later. Document it all – and don't be afraid to request this from your agency if they don’t provide it.
- Schedule, schedule and re-schedule
Most of a PM’s day can be attributed to scheduling (and re-scheduling and re-scheduling). However, the best schedules are those that the client and agency have collaborated on. Let your PM know of any blackout dates, potential bottlenecks, or other risks early and have them account for them on the schedule. Work with your PM to decide on dates that both teams can agree on. By planning ahead, PM's can schedule in time for revisions and corrective actions along the way. Once deadlines are set and agreed on, it’s important that everyone does their part to meet those dates. Missing a deadline is like pulling your car to the shoulder in afternoon traffic – chances are you won’t be able to get back your place in line.
- Keep away from "creeps"
Scope creep is when the scope of work “mysteriously” grows. It’s a similar phenomenon to filling your cart when you only intended on getting light bulbs from the hardware store. Unfortunately, when it comes to ad campaigns, scope creep is a bit more impactful. When new items arise, there are a few ways to deal with them:
A. If it is something that directly affects the primary objective, move a less-important objective to the bottom of the list.
B. If it doesn't impact a primary object, put it at the bottom of the list.
C. You may also be able to wrap all lower priority tasks in a “Phase 2” release to avoid affecting any major deadlines.
Clients and agencies should have a strong and valued partnership. The success of your campaign is the only win for a good agency. Start collaborating early, use project managers as a resource, and take advantage of their strengths and expertise. Meet with the creative team – they can help inform early strategy decisions that will minimize roadblocks when it comes to execution, and can help sync up the team’s thinking to make your vision a reality.
Follow these tips and a successful project execution is in your favor!