Effective project management is something all account service folks grow into gradually, and it's a skill we never stop developing. In my time at BKV, I've learned a few of the Do's and Don'ts of how to interact with other departments when you're the one responsible for reporting to your clients and getting them what they need.
I'd like to note that I'm guilty of each one of these account service sins and certainly have no room to be lecturing anyone on how to be a perfect project manager. As you learn from my mistakes, I hope this list of the Top 5 Ways to Stall Your Project helps provide a framework for how you interact with your partners or team members: whether you're the client, the account executive, the media guru, or the creative artist.
• Sweat the small stuff.
o Part of good project management means being detail oriented, but there are limitations. Focusing too hard on the details at the expense of the big picture will get you into trouble in the long run. Always keep the end goal in mind, from the deliverable and date to the budget you've agreed upon.
• Shirk the blame.
o Account folks are the middle men and the mediators, responsible for everything from a campaign performing badly to the weather raining out a photo shoot. As such, it's tempting to avoid taking the blame internally. This philosophy creates negative energy in your team and pins you as someone who can't own up to his mistakes. If your comp is lopsided because you wrote an unclear job order (I'm guilty!), own up to it. It goes a long way.
• Better yet, shirk responsibility.
o It's tempting to tell someone in another department, "That's not my job," but your client is paying you to get something done. Whether it's restructuring a presentation or resizing an image by yourself, step in where you can and be a team player. Individual roles are vital and agency experts should do what they do best, but when it comes to just "getting stuff done," step up, volunteer, and just do it.
• Discuss the problem...discuss the problem...discuss the problem...
o With lots of brains in a room, it's easy to think of all the reasons not to solve an issue: "But what if this happens? But we need a schedule created! But who will do it?" One of my favorite learning experiences from my supervisors at BKV was determining how to take the noise of a situation and pinpointing its source. I remember all too well a day my coworker and I ran into someone's office and began running through a laundry list of all our problems, only to be told, "Sounds like this is an A/B issue. Tell the client to pick A or B." As silly as we felt, that experience stays with me and it's something I now strive for whenever there are people running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Ask, "What's the real problem, here?" Then answer, "Here's a solution."
• Pick every battle.
o This is perhaps the sin of which I'm guiltiest. As account people, our job is first and foremost to please the client, but doing that also means keeping a motivated and happy team of partners within the agency. Asking for a landing page to be built in a week may be what the client wants, but is it what they need? It's important to pick your battles and know when to push back on unreasonable requests. Many clients respect an agency's processes, and the more that account people can strengthen that philosophy, the more room is made for the clients who don't understand it. Reasonable client expectations equal happier teams and higher morale - which means projects are handled more effectively! Win-win-win!
I am a sinner and I have taken to this blog as my confession. I can be small-picture oriented, blameful, irresponsible, indecisive, and weak-willed. I make it my mission to improve upon these every day. And, account service team, I make it your challenge to do the same. The better project managers we are, the happier our clients will be - and that's a winning situation for everyone.