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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

An Agency's Ability to Deliver - People Are Talking

Industry talk is tantalizing. Externally, aided in great part by the plethora of awards, trade pubs and blogs, buzz tends to center around account-wins, creativity, and to a lesser extent, results. Published industry evaluation reports (e.g. AdWeek's Digital Agency Report Card, Forrester's Wave Studies) evaluate similar things, but an agency's ability to execute efficiently is not considered. However, within the industry, peer-to-peer at the bar (like when one PM asks another about a shop she used to work at), an agency's working environment, and its ability to deliver, are main topics.

I've had the opportunity to get out and about to various industry events and conferences recently. Good form prevents me from listing details of what I've overheard. I will say that I was amazed at the consistency of buzz about certain agencies from one event to another and how well it aligned with the trash-talk I've heard inside of various agencies. The lack of understanding by some non-creative agency parties about the challenges of managing clients and creative/tech deliverables was striking as well.

An agency's reputation is important to maintain. Here are just a few areas where buzz comes into play.
  • Hiring - In the current economic environment, agencies that are hiring have the upper hand. However, the best talent out there, especially those that have a stable gig, will still be applying even more scrutiny when considering whether or not to join a new shop.

  • Business Referrals - Media companies often influence clients' choices of what creative agencies to work with or, believe me, to stop working with.

  • Headhunters & Agency Recruiting Personnel- These guys hear it all. They get a regular insider's tour of agencies from the slew of talent they interact with. I've begged one of my long-term headhunter friends to write a book, I, and I'm sure others, would love to read it.

  • Third-Party & Publisher Preference - Guess which agencies 3rd party vendors like PointRoll, EyeBlaster and EyeWonder are going to partner with and feature in their case studies for their newest, high-functioning units? Publishers are well aware of which agencies deliver on time, and which deliver heartache.

  • Who's Got Your Back? - When the trash talk about your agency starts flying (usually behind your back), you want/need someone who knows your agency's and your work to chime in and support you.

I don't need to tell you that clients care very much about an agency's ability to deliver. Any agency evaluation report card, or feedback given by a client (especially those leading up to or following an account being put into review) consider agency efficiency and reliability very heavily.

PM's main mission is to ensure high-quality output that is delivered on-time, on-budget and on-spec. It's incumbent on you to not only execute on this and to form positive relationships with those who share the ecosystem with you. Obviously, this will help improve your ability to deliver together, but it will also improve your company's and your own reputation and your ability to thrive. I assure you, you will need it someday. As the Oracle of Omaha suggests:

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”

- Warren Buffet


  1. Tag: PM201A54. Let me share all of you about #5 Tips for Project Management Success,, I hope you enjoy it

    1. Plan your day using time management techniques

    As a project manager, time management skills are essential because you are dealing with a wide range of tasks that demand a quick turnaround time. Planning your day will go a long way in keeping you organized and increasing your productivity. Assist your task planning by using project management software which helps you track the work of you and your team.

    If you are not very tech savvy, a simple to-do list can also be a great organizational tool. Prioritize your most important tasks by putting them at the top of the list and less important ones at the bottom. Having a visual plan of your daily tasks helps to keep you on track and aware of time.

    Related post: Free ebook 104 secrets to become a great project manager

    2. Include stakeholders in important project conversations

    While you will have plenty of responsibilities regarding the project, don’t neglect your clients.

    Good communication is essential is keeping both parties informed of project progression, curtailing scope creep, and apprised of changing requirements. Some clients may have different expectations when it comes to communication, so make sure to establish the frequency and type of communication (like emails, phone calls, and face-to-face conversations) at the beginning of your project.

    Establishing communication expectations early helps alleviate stakeholder uncertainty about communication frequency and delivery.

    3. Regularly communicate with your team

    Daily team communication helps keep misunderstandings and unclear requirements under control. Keeping your team informed in every step of the project is essential to project management success.

    For example, a study published by Procedia Technology found that good communication skills were the cornerstone of project management. The study examined over 300 “construction project managers, architects, construction managers, engineers and quantity surveyors” and their successes and failures on various construction projects.

    4. Anticipate project setbacks

    Even the best-laid plans often go awry.

    Remember that even with a high amount of planning and attention to detail, your project may still encounter some challenges. Pay attention to complaints from stakeholders or colleagues, and other warning signs, like a missed deadline or cost overrun, that there may be a problem.

    Preventing a crisis will keep your project running smoothly, save you a lot of time, and keep you, your team, and your stakeholders confident in progressing with the project.

    Unfortunately not every complication can be avoided. Crisis management skills are essential for dealing with the unexpected. Project managers need to be flexible and pragmatic. Improvise and make sharp decisions when needed.

    Related post: 92 free project management templates

    5. Stay focused on the details

    A common problem project managers encounter is having the project aims not aligned with the organization’s objectives. A great project manager will strategize a plan for the project to lead back to the overall success of the business.

    Know your project’s scope by heart and avoid wandering outside of the project’s requirements. It’s too easy to get lost in minor details and forget what your focus is, so a well-planned project scope is essential for success.

    And final, you should use KPI to measure effectiveness of the project, here are full list: 76 project management KPIs

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