The relationship between the Account Management and Project Management teams is one that needs constant attention and definition. Like any partnership engaged in complex endeavors, there are complementary areas, supplementary areas and grey areas.
I've seen all points on the map from clear distinctions to planned reinforcement that form the foundation of strong partnerships. These models benefit both clients and agencies. Some agencies have Account Directors only and everyone else is a project manager. Some relegate the ugly, "just-get-the-job-done" details to the project managers and the glory to the Account team (and Creatives). Many agencies either don't understand the project management role or don't have it at all.
I hate (well not really) to put things in a competitive light, but the Account Managers do have an edge in that the role has always existed in the agency world and they benefit from external recognition. Guess which discipline is missing from the Agency Discipline's section on the AAAA's Web site. Project managers have a pretty uphill battle to define and claim their position in agencies. This funny video from Monster , which made the rounds a while ago, almost touches on the role when it mentions producers toward the end. Sadly, project management remains off the radar - even from a company like Monster that earns its keep selling the role to agencies.
This post by Lindsay Cotter on the Hill Holiday blog, HHblog: Rethinking Marketing, is inspiring in that she opines about the value of Account Management in, The Best Job in Advertising? . However, worse than no mention, is when your thunder is stolen. She concludes, with pleasure when describing the AAAA's 2008 Account Management Conference:
"Finally, we did not forget to tell our co-workers that the conference stressed the importance of account managers to an agency, as one peer put it, account management folks 'make sure the trains run on time.'"
Thoughts? Feelings feelings about our "partners"? About elevating Project Management?