Working with a design agency can be like taking on a new team member for some of our clients, so it’s essential that the Account Manager allocated to a project makes it seamless in terms of delivery and builds up a great rapport.
Project Management is an area that’s often undervalued in terms of time, so we’d like to expand on what goes on behind the scenes to explain why it’s worth the investment.
A good Account Manager pre-empts the needs of a client, being proactive, making informed suggestions, is fun to work with, and generally adds value to the process.
Kate Clayton is a Senior Account Manager and has worked at DA for 10 years now. She shares her thoughts on the importance of project management and how a good project manager makes the client journey seamless and adds value at every stage of a project.
We often get asked the question, “Why is project management important?’
When faced with costs for something that seem intangible, it’s a totally reasonable question to ask.
Project Management plays a crucial role to ensure a project runs smoothly, not only delivering on time, budget and within scope, it also ensures our client and designers are on the same page at every turn, so that everyone stays on track to achieves the objectives in the brief.
We tend to get asked this question a fair amount, so we’ve decided to put together our guide to how project management adds value and how an Account Manager contributes to a positive client experience:
1. Getting to the root of a client brief
Clients brief us on projects in all sorts of ways. Some are written in exacting detail with lots of facts and figures, some are short and sweet, and some are given verbally.
As project managers, we listen carefully, digest information and then question everything so that we accurately interpret a brief. Having a clear understanding of what the client needs and wants is crucial, as this forms the basis of the creative brief we write for the design team.
2. Ensuring clear focus and defined objectives
Once the brief is understood, we work closely with clients to define the scope of a project and then break this down into clear objectives for the designers. This ensures that both the client and design team have the same understanding of the project objectives, timings and deliverables. Throughout the project our role is to keep everyone focused on the overarching vision.
3. Realistic project planning
We liaise with the design team and external suppliers to pull together a crucial plan before executing the project. This ensures team input and buy-in, freeing everyone up to focus on their main roles. We create schedules, allocate budgets, and crucially, ensure that realistic expectations are set around what can be delivered, by when, and for how much. Throughout the project we use this plan to make sure the right people are doing the right things, at the right time.
4. A centre point
Project Managers have a really good understanding of all aspects of delivering the project, allowing us to monitor if everyone’s doing what they should. As the centre point of all communication on a project, we ensure that as the project flows between different teams and phases of work, nothing gets forgotten about or overlooked.
5. Continuous evaluation
Evaluating the project continuously is critical to ensuring it stays on track. Design projects are constantly evolving, and we have to be able to adapt plans, show clients how changes might impact the project and manage their expectations accordingly. A critical part of the evaluation process is being able to anticipate pinch points, or where a project might go off-track and then set up contingency plans to avoid this happening.