When it comes to digital marketing projects most of the shine goes to those people who produce the tangible work. It might be the usability created by the UXers, the stunning visuals crafted by the designers, the visibility created by the SEO experts or the know-how of the developers who brought your brand to life on the screen.
However when an organization is analyzing the finished product one person often gets overlooked, and that’s the project manager.
It’s ironic really. After all, the project manager might just be the most important person at the digital marketing agency you’re working with, and here’s why.
Just what exactly does a good project manager do?
Look at it this way.
A UX designer is by their nature, beholden to the user. The creative designer, on the other hand, is going to be advocating for the brand. The SEO expert abides by the algorithms and keywords, and developers will champion functionality above all else. It’s the nature of their jobs.
Your project manager, however, is working for you. You see, they are there to represent your organization at every stage of a project’s development. Ensuring that your budget is kept to, your timeline matched, and your brief is front of mind in each and every conversation.
So the next time you successfully complete a digital project, take a second and imagine if it would have been completed as smoothly without the time invested by your project manager. Would it have been completed at all or would you still be debating with a developer over the value of feature X, Y or Z?
Put simply project managers are the glue that keeps the various parts of your project stuck together and moving forward. But they are also much more than that.
Think of your project manager as your partner
Traditionally, the relationship between agencies and clients is transactional: one side asks, the other side delivers.
We believe that the best relationships, however, are true partnerships, and no-one represents that more than your project manager.
Why? Because a partner is someone that you work closely with. Someone that you invest in, collaborate with, and share the same common goals as. It’s someone who knows you inside and out, who’ll challenge you, support you, and help you to get to where you want to go. A partner gives a shit, the same way that you do. And that’s the very definition of a great project manager.
However, even the best in the business cannot go it alone. Indeed like any great partnership, the success of your relationship with your project manager is a two-way street. That means the more you put in, the more you get out. So what can you do to support the project manager in your life? We’ve put together a few tips to help you improve your relationship:
When it comes to working with your project manager honesty is always the best policy. They want your project to be as much of a success as you do, but they can only do that if they’re armed with the information they need to get the job done. So if something’s going to take you two weeks to deliver instead of the one you promised, tell them. Or, you don’t like the direction a project is going in, say so. Being able to have candid conversations with your agency helps to tackle issues head-on and ensure that everyone is on the same page from day one.
Conflict can be healthy
On the subject of honesty don’t be afraid of a little conflict. The trust that you’ve built with your project manager should enable you to challenge one another, and that’s often when the magic happens. These friendly challenges are about someone saying “Here’s what else we can do” and not just stopping at “No, I don’t want to do that”. It’s about adding value so that together you can accomplish something great.
Communication is key
Like any good relationship, communication is key when it comes to project management. Regular updates, check-ins and conversations aren’t just there for the agency to show their worth. They’re there to ensure that information is clarified and assumptions are challenged. With communication also comes listening. So make sure you take time to really take on board what is being said by those involved in your project.
So is transparency
Be open about the project journey, who’s involved, where everyone fits and who’s in charge of what. Having full transparency on each side will make the project efficient and will reduce any frustrations or nasty surprises.
Get to know each other
You and your project team are going to be working closely together, so make sure that you take the time to get to know each other. Whether it’s joining their Slack channels, sharing a joke, or simply talking about something outside of work – building that personal connection can lead to a better professional relationship.
Enjoy the process
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make sure you enjoy the process. You and your project manager are working on something great together, so celebrate the wins when they come.
If you’re currently working with an agency and you notice your relationship isn’t ticking all the boxes, now’s the time to address it. If you want to find out what can be achieved when your partnership is firing on all cylinders, find out how a close relationship with our friends over at COBS Bread turned a humble digital project into an award-winning customer experience.