We hear people say it all the time, how busy they are and how they can barely keep their head above water. Trust me, I get it. 834 is in growth mode (I am beginning to wonder when that will ever end) and it is hard to stay on top of everything, which is why we are process czars. 834 has a standard operating procedures (SOP) binder that maps out our project management process while also breaking down how each service under our integrated communication umbrella is delivered. There is a lot more to it, but I won’t bore you with all the process details.
As we added new team members, it was obvious that we needed to map out how we do things the 834 way. The first three months of any new employee is trial by fire. The new team member must become familiar with all clients, our processes, culture, work ethic and be ridiculously organized.
Our SOP manual becomes their nightly reading material and is their lifeline in those first few months, especially for project managers.
Our project management process is constantly updated as we find better and more streamlined ways to do things.
The key items in any project management process is:
- Organization. We utilize Basecamp to manage all clients and ourselves. Finding a tool that works for you and will keep all items in one central place is key in maintaining your sanity. Basecamp is where the project overview, communication, timeline and files are all kept.
- Communication. Before we even have the first meeting with a new client, we meet as a team and do an internal kick-off. This meeting allows the business development contact to brief the project manager and team members on past communication, client quirks and other important observations prior to handing over the reins. We then set-up the client kick-off meeting which tackles 1) Introductions, 2) Overview of services being delivered, 3) Project timeline, 4) Ongoing communication, 5) Expectations and 6) Next steps or action items. We have the same agenda for every single client and the process is mapped out down to what a project manager will do each week with that client.
- Expectations. The key to project management success is being honest up front with the client, yourself and other team members. As humans we have the tendency to over-promise and under-deliver. At the client kick-off meeting we make sure the client understands deadlines and how they are impacted if they are not responsive. We are also realistic about setting those deadlines, which is why we first do an internal kick-off to be sure all team members are on the same page and the timeline is doable.
- Conflict resolution. Shit will hit the fan at some point and how you resolve it will determine project success. At the kick-off meeting we discuss items that can derail progress, ask the client to share any reservations they have in working with an agency and then reiterate that honesty is the best policy. Nip it in the butt before it becomes a huge issue.
There is obviously a lot more to our project management process and I will delve into hosting a successful meeting and ongoing management in the next blog.
What tools do you use to stay organized? What do you find most challenging?