Think BR: The importance of project management to adland

By Tim Bath, brandrepublic.com, Thursday, 26 July 2012 08:30AM

Agencies cannot afford to underestimate the vital role played by project management, writes Tim Bath, chairman, IPA Creative Services Group, and creative services director, AMV BBDO

Tim Bath, chairman, IPA Creative Services Group, and creative services director, AMV BBDO

Tim Bath, chairman, IPA Creative Services Group, and creative services director, AMV BBDO

It’s seems ironic that such an important function of all really successful ad agencies is little heard of outside adland and until recently has received little investment.

It’s a role that has developed from a production requirement to one that requires a whole new breed of candidate.

Remember, agencies are not paid for ideas; they are paid for the execution of ideas and that means charging by the hour.

So with time so precious to us and our clients, more important than ever is the requirement for lean processes to ensure we have the best possible internal structures and ways of working in place to meet the client’s needs. Enter project management.

Project management, in its purest sense, is a media non-specific role that proactively leads tight teams of the right people, working together, in the right way to get to the right answer.

They should be there from the beginning, part of the account management and planning core team, working with and not for other departments - pre planning time and money, creative and production resource, through to fulfilment and delivery.

It is fast moving away from its production roots and slowly becoming more of a client service role as the need to run agency processes in parallel with client internal processes and structures becomes ever more vital to the smooth delivery of comms.

In fact many agencies are now considering and are putting in place more client facing, or white labelled, project managers working even closer with account management to agree and align agency and client timings and process, a role often left to less experienced junior account men.

In order to enable this new breed of project manager to develop, it is clear to see the need to educate, train and find new and fresh talent to fulfil both the agencies’ and clients’ process needs.

With this in mind, I go back to my first point about securing further investment in what I believe is a truly interesting alternative to the more traditional career paths in advertising.

Having successfully restructured the project management department at AMV through training, new hires, graduates and more recently an apprenticeship scheme, I wanted to push this vital role by working with the Creative Services Group at the IPA.

Collectively we have produced and published the ‘Little book of Project Management’ that will be hitting the desks of all CEOs, MDs and creative service heads within IPA membership. 

It’s just a few pages that doesn’t moan, or try to justify the role, but aims to raise the profile of project management and provide the industry with food for thought on this evolving discipline, which I consider to be an important step in the right direction.

We are hoping to write a few follow-on books that drill down into some tighter specifics, but to accompany this initial publication, the IPA is running a new project management training course in October which will provide delegates with a better understanding of the processes central to project management, including scoping, planning, implementation and evaluation.

With a dwindling pool of great project managers this investment of time and money is an utmost priority to the industry.

Tim Bath, chairman, IPA Creative Services Group, and creative services director, AMV BBDO

This article was first published on brandrepublic.com

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