5 Ways to Integrate Account & Project Management for Better Results

By James Williams in Project Management on May 8th, 2015

Traditionally, account service has been charged with managing the client and producing results. However, with the gradual introduction of project management in leading organizations, these tasks are becoming a shared responsibility. Here are five key ways in which project management and account service must work together to deliver strong results.

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Collaboration is the key to any successful project, and in organizations with complex organizational structures, this can prove to be difficult. As leading organizations continue to gradually introduce project management as a core function to achieving business objectives and managing risks, setting boundaries and establishing shared roles and responsibilities become paramount in ensuring a project kicks offand comes to a completionwithout a hitch. Failing to set these boundaries and encourage the spirit of collaboration at the onset of a project can indeed be detrimental to the project’s success; poor estimation during the planning phase of a project is the largest contributor of all project failures.

With both project management and account management often overlapping responsibilities to the client, navigating the best way to partner can prove to be difficult. Traditionally, account management has been tasked with the responsibility of managing the client and the project deliverables, but is that the best way? We’ve outlined 5 key tips to better integrate project and account management functions to produce results.


  1. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

    Presenting the project team to the client during the initial engagement does more than afford team members the opportunity for more face time with the client. Allowing the client to interact with the team directly responsible for their deliverable assures the client that the necessary resources have been allocated to the project and allows team members the opportunity to ask probing questions, potentially drawing budgetary and scheduling implications that may be missed by account service. Project management should assist account service in identifying these areas of concern before a project is initialized, allowing for a smoother and timelier transfer of project deliverables between internal and external teams.

  2. Establish Open Lines of Communication

    Traditionally, account management has been tasked with managing the client (often in a vacuum), establishing client expectations, and communicating project requirements to internal teams. The potential for miscommunication between the client and the project team increases with each additional intermediary point of contact within the line of communication. This should be streamlined as much as possible by allowing project management to assist the account representative in establishing project requirements and determining the best way in which to facilitate communication amongst team members. If a project requires the involvement of many teams (both client-side and internal), a project manager may consider establishing a direct point of contact to represent each team, allowing for greater accountability and limiting “white noise” in the communication channel.

  3. Maintain the Integrity of the Budget

    Client relations have the potential to turn sour very quickly if there isn’t a clear understanding and agreement on the numbers. The temptation to offer the client more for less, often at the expense of the agency, is legendary in advertising, but often does neither party any favors in the long run. Budgetary negotiations should be open and honest, with project management assisting account management in supplying the hard numbers. Set expectations, deliver on those expectations and allow anything extra to be added value.

  4. Tag Team Project Challenges

    Every project has a degree of negative risk and it is project management’s responsibility to prepare for those challenges. However, these challenges are better addressed when account service and project management act in concert, working together to mitigate risk before it negatively impacts the project. Account service should act as the first line of defense, communicating any changes in scope and any possibility of delayed client feedback to project management to prevent project failure.

  5. Circle Back

    A part of account management’s responsibility is following up with the client and addressing any concerns once a project has concluded. Project management should work with account service to ensure this same follow-up occurs internally, when necessary. Combining feedback from both the client and internal project teams could provide valuable insight for future client engagements and project teams.


Account management and project management must work together in order to best serve the client. This should be done through continuous communication between both departments, a clear understanding of client initiatives and interdepartmental objectives, and a mutual appreciation for the value each function brings to the project and ultimately, the client.

Scheduling regular check-ins with your project management team and establishing a positive working relationship is the first step toward opening the lines of communication between the account service and project management teams. Clear communication, championing a spirit of teamwork and collaboration, and addressing project challenges head-on will ensure the project runs smoothly—and clients are satisfied.

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