When I tell people that I am a Project Manager, I’m met with the pretty unanimous response of “Oh, that’s interesting…” which is code for “That sounds boring, I bet you LOVE a spreadsheet”.

The reality is, that for us Project Managers, it isn’t boring at all. It is in fact the most exciting thing ever, because what we really do is enable incredibly talented creatives, copywriters and developers to deliver wonderful projects. We really do love a spreadsheet though.

There is a growing attitude among agencies that Project Management is a redundant skill set, brought about by an ever increasing focus on “agile” methodologies that require teams to work together collaboratively. People think of Projects work as being old-school PRINCE-2 oriented; loads of documentation (we all love a good PID right?), Gantt charts, and numerous endless meetings – and regard this as being incompatible with modern “agile agency” approaches.

I have my PRINCE-2 certification. I also have a wealth of experience working Agile, DSDM Atern and Lean projects, and personally find these practices to be very compatible with each other.

Bored yet? I’ll stop with the acronyms for a second and explain just why Project Management in agencies is so important. I’ve written a two-part mini series and *spoiler alert*  –  it all comes down to planning.

The importance of documentation

The purpose of good documentation in projects is to establish;

  1. What we are going to deliver in the project

  2. How we are going to deliver the project

  3. When we will deliver the project

  4. How much it will cost to deliver the project

This can be produced in a lean way so as to not take up loads of time like the old-school PID might have done, but still capture all the vital detail of the project. At Wonderful we do this through 2 simple documentation formats; the initial Project Agreement, and then with a Statement of Work.

The Project Agreement covers high-level deliverables, and then we work to identify the specifics for the Statement of Work. This is then all wrapped up in agile processes by allowing some flexibility over the deliverables in the Statement of Work. Change is good, so we encourage some flex throughout a project, so long as those changes align with the timeline or budget set or with the accepted project tolerances.

The final important bit of documentation that we use is the Project Acceptance document. This mimics the Statement of Work so we can use it to test against and ensure everything has been delivered in full, plus it documents any changes agreed throughout the project. This bundles everything up neatly for sign off.

These bits of documentation are so simple to produce, and yet often missed when agencies deliver work. At Wonderful, we make sure that everything is clearly and simply set out, leaving no room for misinterpretation or confusion. This is why Project Management is so valuable, because without it, you run the risk of not knowing exactly what to deliver – and this is where costs spiral and deadlines get missed.

Part 2 to follow soon