15 Aug Turns out my creatives don’t like PM-ing…did I just waste a boatload of money?
The very term “project management” calls forth images of Bill Lumbergh, gray cubicles, and TPS reports…Who wouldn’t want to avoid that fate?? The good news: this isn’t Initech. You are not Bill Lumbergh for offering them a PM tool.
Our ongoing experience with several Fortune 100 clients taught us three things:
- creatives actually like PM tools, when presented correctly;
- PM tools tend to centralize resources, which really helps creative teams accomplish more & prioritize more effectively, and;
- executives need insight into the process.
Let’s take a look at the first one. Creatives—regardless of their particular functional background—want to do more of what they do best: create marketable content. Seems simple enough. But traditional project management tends to dictate that you hold status meetings, expound upon lists, and ask folks to spend their Saturdays in a cube. That’s not fun for anyone. That’s a cultural war of attrition. At LeapPoint, we like to present project management in a totally different way. The PM tool is simply a traffic management center. It should offer a single, simple, and accessible view into the workflow and the iterations of projects and deliverables so that managers can effectively plan their work. And with modern PM tools, all of this information and insight can be captured as a byproduct of workers taking advantage of the native workflow and collaboration features. Sure it’s project management. But it’s project management using a tool designed for the way your creatives work, rather than forcing your creatives to work in a way that supports the rigors of project management.
A secondary benefit of using a PM tool is its ability to centralize resource management along with the work. Once the workflow is brought into a single location, the resources follow. Emails, attachments, disparate spreadsheets, outdated content storage… these things naturally make their way into the PM tool forcing teams to follow suit. While this drives further efficiencies on the delivery side, the greatest value it provides is painting a holistic picture of resource utilization and capacity. The ability to understand who’s working on what, how much available time they have, when they’ll free up, and who can support a project that comes in today, tomorrow, or next month. This view allows managers and executives to not only prioritize and execute “immediate work” but it also enables them to obtain a long-term view of the organization’s resource needs and make informed decisions about scaling capacity (i.e., hiring more people). When leadership is empowered with this sort of insight, it addresses the most common theme we hear, without exception, which is that teams are either too busy to address all of the business needs or too busy to address them with the caliber of work that’s expected.
Sure it's project management. But it’s project management using a tool designed for the way your creatives work, rather than forcing your creatives to work in a way that supports the rigors of project management.
The last item is one that holds true no matter the work or organization. Executives will always need and want some measure of insight into what their teams are doing. Even at a high level this might consist of how many projects to date, the status of those projects, the cost of labor or other expenses…What they’ll want to see will vary by executive. But they will want to see something. Being able to provide your leadership with a summary of how money is being spent and the status of their projects without having to solicit input from everyone on your team will be invaluable. With a PM tool information is real-time and can be easily aggregated to present the particular “slice” or view that your executives like to see. Moreover, this ‘single version of the truth’ helps keep everyone playing from the same sheet of music and reduces the need for individual updates and any resulting friction—both of which distract from content delivery which, at the end of the day, is what you’re really there to do.
So what’s the big picture here? Look, you’re always going to have at least some creatives who are “operationally inclined” and either don’t mind project management or even enjoy it as part of the creative development process. And then of course you’re going to have the other half who fight it kicking and screaming. But here’s the crazy part. Resisting a PM tool is missing the forest for the trees. Sure it has “project management” in the title. And if you don’t like planned dates and effort estimations that probably sounds like a nightmare. But PM-ing is going to get done regardless of the tool. They’re doing it already. It’s just disruptive and inefficient. And THAT’S what they don’t like—the status meetings, and constant drives-bys, “where’s this? where’s that?”. What the tool brings to the table is the ability for PMs to get the information they need to do their jobs without distracting creatives from doing theirs. And that is something creative teams get excited about. It’s all in how you sell it.