We have written at length about why project management is a fundamental requirement for any modern ad agency. That’s why it’s great to see more and more ad agencies embracing project management and employing PMs and implementing project management methodologies. The question that we regularly get asked is “what should we look for in a creative project manager?
Effective creative project management requires a unique set of skills and talents. If you’re looking to manage a creative project, there are certain key skills that you should possess or strive to gain. These fall into 3 buckets:
- Standard Project Management skills such as excellent organization and communication, and problem-solving skills.
- Professional Services Project Management skills like resource management, leadership, team building, and soft skills (eg emotional intelligence.)
- Industry-specific skills like the ability to think creatively, to be innovative, writing and visual design.
Here are five essential tips for successful creative project management.
One of the most essential skills for effective creative project management is staying organized. Having a clear plan and schedule helps ensure that tasks are completed on time and that everyone is on the same page. Utilize project management tools and software to help you track and store project information, deadlines, and any other relevant data.
Set Priorities and Goals for Each Project
It’s important that your project is set up with a clear set of goals and priorities. Knowing the main objectives of each project allows you to break it down into achievable tasks, even if they’re complex. That’s why you should make sure that the client brief is as detailed as possible. More importantly, the quote/estimate should clearly state:
- What are the project deliverables
- The number of revisions included (if applicable)
- The process and costs of changing the scope
That leads nicely to the next tip
Make sure to clearly communicate these goals with your team so everyone understands what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. Do this at the project kick-off meeting and repeat it regularly to remind everyone. This is particularly important in creative agencies because clients are notorious for asking for “out of scope” stuff so make sure that the team knows what to do when that happens.
This will help ensure that all tasks are completed on time, within budget, and the entire project goes off without a hitch!
Also, regularly communicate the project status with the client and keep them informed.
Develop a System for Tracking Progress.
Creative project management is a juggling act, so you need to be super organized. That’s because many creative projects have a lot of moving parts and lots of “dependencies”.
Creating and maintaining project timelines are incredibly important when managing a creative project. You don’t want to miss any deadlines or important milestones along the way, so it’s critical that you have a system in place for tracking progress.
This could include using project management software or simplifying things by using Kanban boards to keep tabs on the tasks being worked on and those that are due soon. Additionally, setting realistic benchmarks and clear goals gives your team measurable indicators of success. As a bonus, helping everyone stay motivated along the way.
As a creative project manager, it’s important to ensure that your team is creating a product that meets the deliverable requirements given by clients or stakeholders. To do this, you’ll need to establish clear boundaries between artistic expression and deliverable specifications.
This means managing any potential scope creep and helping ensure that everyone understands what elements are product features versus what is considered an “extra.” Additionally, make sure to create space for inspiration while pushing team members to stay within set timelines and budget constraints.
Foster Collaborative Working Relationships With Your Team
Collaboration among team members is critical for effective creative project management. Establish a culture of trust with your team by encouraging open communication and positive interactions. For example, holding regular check-in meetings and giving everyone an equal opportunity to contribute ideas. Additionally, create individualized goals based on the skills and talent of each person on the team to ensure that their strengths are being utilized efficiently. As you work together, each individual can offer expertise from their own field to push the project in a new direction or make a suggestion on how to refine its existing elements.
Finally, check out this video that shows a day in the life of a creative project manager. It certainly shows these tips in action. She refers to one of our competitor products but the important thing is that your agency has a tool that helps your PMs stay on top of the work.
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