I didn’t know I was a Project Manager
I feel like I’ve been duped. I don’t really know what or why, but the wool has been removed from my eyes. My background is in Advertising Account Management, and before very recently (the last couple of years) we were pretty much known as the Project Managers of the Advertising Industry. But if I was technically a project manager how did I not know the different Project Management frameworks, specifically Agile?
Before I knew that the appropriate name for concurrent projects and deadlines was Agile. Before I knew the daily stand-ups with my team were Agile frameworks. Before I knew to look at all the parts to my projects and posting them on the wall with post-its was Kanban. Before I knew that the “post-mortem” after a campaign finished was part of Scrum, I was in the thick of it. Later on in my career, as I started working for brands directly on the client-side, I would hear this terminology and figured it was all part of their business framework. Turns out, I’ve been following Agile all my career.
The Agile Framework in the Advertising Process
Agile is so important for managing projects and as I reflect on projects completed throughout my Advertising career, I can see the similarities of the framework in action throughout the lifetime of a client in the Advertising agency:
- New Business/Sales – Sales in the Agency: Typically handled by New Business focused employees where potential clients are viewed incrementally within Agile sprints within the funnel. At each stage, there is usually an associated percentage of the likelihood of the signing of the contract.
- Once the client has signed on with an Agency a Discovery process ensues, which I now know as an elicitation. This process includes a meeting of the minds with the client, obtaining their view on the hurdles the brand faces, the current systems they use, competitors, etc.
- The Elicitation continues with the research phase in which the Agency identifies and investigates the brand user personas, surveys the target, and, where applicable, will administer focus-groups or usability studies for their website and product.
- Throughout the research phase, many incremental sprints investigating various parts of the marketing plan are occurring simultaneously. Agency timelines for Campaign rollout are usually pretty tight (within 6 months on average) so there isn’t time for a Waterfall type of management.
- Once the marketing plan is approved, the Agency moves into the Creative concept. Finally, a process part that is not only similar in execution but also names. Within the creative stage of the Advertising process, we use iterations in order to account for collected feedback at each stage of completion. We usually allow for 3 iterations of feedback. If there is an issue of scope creep, we will have to inform the client of a need for an addendum to the original contract.
- Moving forward, we hold daily team meetings within the agency to make sure that clients are serviced appropriately, deadlines are met and profit projections are reached.
Proposal for Agile Agencies
It’s exciting to know that a framework so new to me is actually used throughout my industry only not credited appropriately. To complete the Agile framework currently adopted in the field, I would propose the following:
- Instead of an analysis of the campaign, after it’s run in a single post-campaign follow-up, the Agency should create contingency and take a more Agile approach to make tweaks during campaign execution based on performance numbers. For example, if an agency is running a new campaign for a client and wants to use a new ad tech – they should make this proposal with the caveat if the numbers expected for return for this effort are not realized within the first month or two, those monies are removed and placed in a more traditional effort with an expected return.
- Incorporate Customer Journey Mapping into our Discovery/Elicitation research process. After learning the importance of the customer journey, I am surprised this method has not been widely adopted in the Advertising process. It should be one of the first things we do in order to recommend changes in strategy, connected to surveys resulting in effective advertising.
After presenting this plan to a fellow Account Manager in the Advertising Agency Industry, Jen, I gained some interesting feedback. Primarily, she informed on a recent trend that pertains directly to the bridge between Project Management and Account Management role-specific to the Ad Industry. In the last two years, Agencies have created a “Project Manager” position to be a go-between for the Account Management role of strategy leader and client liaison. The Project Manager is responsible for managing the many deadlines in ad creation and making sure that deadlines are not missed. The role that Account Managers had to pick up on the job and added additional hours to the day is now appropriately attached to a Project Manager specific position.
However, I am grateful for those long hours of having the experience of a Project Manager and now I have the theory behind it as well!
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Week, A. (2017, June 15). Agencies Gone Agile: Why an Agile Approach Makes Sense for Ad Agencies. Retrieved August 05, 2020, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/agencies-gone-agile-why-an-agile-approach-makes-sense_b_5942eaefe4b0940f84fe2ce6?guccounter=1
Written by Rachel Serpa, & Serpa, R. (2017, September 20). Agile Sales: The New Sales Framework You Need to Know. Retrieved August 05, 2020, from https://technologyadvice.com/blog/sales/agile-sales-the-new-sales-framework-you-need-to-know/