What differs a good project manager from a bad one? The answer is the level of involvement.

Being a good manager doesn’t mean fussing around everybody and yelling that you want the job done by Monday with no particular idea what your team is actually doing. It means that you are in charge and that you have to know the answer to every project-related question: what, who, how, why, and when. It is a very demanding position with a number of risks and hardships.

Surely, every agency sets up their own requirements for whom they see as a good project manager. However, the functions that they have to perform are hardly different. We have compiled our own checklist and included 5 points that are vital for successful project management.

Let’s dig it.

1) A proficient and well-trained team

Let’s start with the very basics. Obviously, no matter how good a project manager you are, you cannot accomplish all the goals without an effective team. It is the responsibility of a project manager to make sure that their team is well trained and everybody knows their roles and duties.

You have to be sure that after you get the project and assign the tasks, no one will come to you and say: “I don’t really know what I should do with this”.

Imagine a situation: you have a package design to make for a tobacco brand, let’s say somewhere in Denmark. Your legislation approver comes to you and asks: “Should I check how big the font of the health warnings for tobacco products should be? How do I do that?”.

Now, who’s fault is that? If you have such people in your team, it means one of two things: either your agency has failed at recruiting or you have failed to explain to your employees their duties within the company. Might be both.

To avoid such a situation, your task is to ensure that the people you work with are provided with proficient training. As soon as your project launches, everybody must know what they have to do and how to do it. If possible, provide them with a number of resources and materials they can consult if they misunderstood something. If you are using some software – make sure everybody knows how to use it.

Also, the atmosphere and communication within your team are important. You should incorporate team-building activities and create healthy relationships between all members of your stuff. Together with proper training, it will increase the quality of work and your final product.

Your team is prepared – check.

2) Ability to work with a client.

You might have a great team of professionals, but that does not guarantee it will instantly get you clients. Your agency has to work hard to earn a reputation and even harder to hold it.

Working with a client properly is not a skill that comes to you easily; it demands experience. Remember that most clients do not know what exactly they want – they only have a business problem to solve. And your task as the project manager is to ensure them you have all the resources to do it.

You must know what to answer to the client’s remarks, how to do it, how to explain that your solution to their problem works best. You must be able to explain to them all the steps that were taken to complete the project and the reasons behind all creative decisions.

We have touched this topic in one of our previous articles, and if you want to have a deeper insight into it – you’re more than welcome. Client – check.

3) Creative brief

Oh, that’s a biggie.

A proper creative brief is the foundation of every successful project. It should include all possible and impossible information about the project, starting with a summary and ending with a budget and all the expenses counted. The brief defines the business problem that your team has to solve, and it depends on the project manager how clear it will be.

Asking the right questions is key here. During the briefing with the client, you have to withdraw as much information from the client as possible. Things like “We just want a cool logo for our new clothing brand” is not enough. Narrow the topic: define the style of clothing, target audience, its preferences.

In other words, your task is to get as much information as you can to know how to sell the result of your work better. We have one more article dedicated to a creative briefing with examples and opinions of professionals – jump right into it here.

Done with the briefing? Put a check and let’s go forward.

4) Timeline and deadlines

Technically, deadlines and timeline should be a part of your brief, but they deserve special attention. They are a huge part of the workflow that should be negotiated with a client before the project launches.

First most important thing about timelines is keeping them realistic. I understand that the faster you deliver the result, the more money you can earn, but you shouldn’t risk the quality of the project. Consult your team if necessary. Win more time if possible. Keep it real.

Use the experience of your previous projects to do the math. Build proper schedules for every team member. If there’s a possibility to finish the project before the final deadline – do it. You will have some extra time to review it with the client and deliver a polished product.

Deadlines all set – check.

5) Project management tool

In modern conditions, it is hardly possible to set a proper workflow without a project management tool. Arranging everything via emails or social networks is extremely painful and costs a lot of money and time.

Incorporating a project management software might seem costly at first glance, but it will prove its worth with time making your workflow faster and clearer. Not only will it help you with arranging schedules and assigning tasks, but also you can get a benefit in client communication and time tracking.

Surely, there are a number of different proofing tools with various functions, but if you’re looking for a new-generation software for your creative team, Approval Studio is your best bet. Sign up while it’s still free and help us improve it and adjust it to what you personally need.

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