Keeping projects on time and on budget is both a science and an art. The key to agency success is also finding a balance between creativity and profitability.
You want to give your agency’s project managers ready access to the information they need to develop an accurate, detailed scope of work. You also need to provide them with real-time information on burn rate and team efficiency so they are able to adjust fire, re-allocate resources, or, if necessary, to back to the client to discuss adjusting the budget if necessary.
Encompassing all these concerns, project managers also must know who on staff the best fit for a particular project is and whether or not they have bandwidth. The goal is to have the right person on the right project at exactly the right time. The consistent aspect for all of these concerns boils down to making sure your PMs have all the data they need to plan, staff and manage every project so that it satisfies client expectations while remaining as profitable as possible.
That’s the ideal scenario, and it’s one we’re convinced is absolutely achievable. The challenge is to be dialed into what we believe are the most common agency project management killers. Know how to address or avoid these, and your agency PMs are going to be profit-optimizing superstars.
Here are the Project Killers you need to recognize and remedy:
Suspect Scope of Work
As the old saying goes, well begun is half done. The most successful projects start with an accurate, explicit SOW. That’s essential for keeping scope-creep in check, and putting the brakes on over-servicing. It lets you establish milestones and set measurements for success, essentially serving as the project’s agreed-upon battle plan. Any deviation can be quickly detected and addressed, deadlines can be adjusted, and expectations re-calibrated if necessary. This all demands clear, consistent client communication, something made so much easier if your PMs are working from a solid SOW.
Lack of Risk Management Strategy
This is often a huge blind spot in agency project management planning. Far from being fatalistic, it’s actually really smart to think in terms of worst-case scenarios when working up a project plan. Think in terms of “what ifs” concerning missed deadlines, budget misallocations, frustrating client communications, unexpected rounds of revision, extra requests, etc. This buys your team a bit of flexibility and responsiveness that can help meet these demands with less negative impact, absorbing scope-creep if necessary and keeping over-servicing to a minimum.
Hasty Resource Allocation
You always want to take the field with your starting team, but sometimes your pros are committed to other efforts. Maybe you can put someone else in a particular position. Maybe you have to pull someone off a lower-priority project and re-assign that person to what is most pressing. Maybe fresh talent eager to achieve is just what you need. Regardless, you need to take the time necessary to make sure the right people are in the right spots. That thoughtful pre-game prep is proven to slash frustration, save time, and protect profitability, so invest in creating a clear, well-documented approach to creating the right lineup for every project, every time!
Getting down to the hard truth of it all, the most common ways projects lose their profitability are shifting client expectations, an endless loop of revisions, client delays on review and approval, and an agency’s failure to accurately estimate required time and effort.
It’s simple: invest in developing smart, strong SOWs, account for unforeseen risks, make sure to choose the right team for the job, and your odds of having happy clients and comfortable profit margins are going to skyrocket.
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