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Managing a team of 20- and 30-year-olds can sometimes be a lot like herding cats.
With generous PTO and a flexible Work from Home policy here at 3Q, it can be difficult to keep track of every team member’s schedule and ensure that your project is on track for the expected completion date. In the constantly changing and fast-paced world of digital marketing, keeping a project on time and within the client’s budget is of the utmost importance.
How is it possible to project-manage a team that you may only see in the office twice a week and keep you, the client, and your team happy?
1. Get connected
The most important thing you can do is to get your team on the same page. There are various project management tools that are just waiting to be utilized, but it is up to you to get everyone connected on one agreed-upon communication platform. Remember, more productivity tools and communication platforms do not always equate to a cohesive and stable team environment.
2. Pick a project-management tool and stick with it
Let me save you the hair pulling and trial & error heartbreak and recommend my favorite project management platform: Asana. I use Asana for every project I am a part of. It keeps myself organized, my team members connected, and my 3rd-party vendors informed. You can access Asana via desktop, mobile app, or even through your email! It has a clean interface and serves as an all-in-one calendar and team communication platform. You can assign tasks to various team members with deadlines—even through your email—and view any project’s progress.
3. Get the Facts & Set Realistic Deadlines
There is nothing worse than “The Phantom Project.” This is the project that is lacking vital task information at the start. Frequently, vital tasks will appear sporadically and without warning. It is important to compile all direction and information from the client prior to presenting a project to the team. There will be exceptions, and clients will often provide new direction during a project, but it is still critical to present all of the current direction and information clearly to the team prior to the start. Once a direction has been established, set a realistic deadline for completion. The client wants the mobile ad yesterday and your creative team says they need a week to deliver a final mockup. Find a happy timeline middle ground and don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Your team will burn out, and the client will be less than thrilled at your lackluster performance and product.
4. Schedule Regular Check-Ins
The key to keeping a project on schedule is consistency. Various aspects of a project will change frequently, and task assignments and statuses are constantly updating. Relying too heavily on a project management platform and not enough on direct communication with team members is a common pitfall. Skype, Rabbit, Google Hangouts, and Slack are excellent examples of tools for direct communication. Sitting on a beach somewhere, but you need to check the status of your coworkers portion of the client presentation? That is no longer an issue! Keeping a standing weekly (often virtual) meeting will keep your team connected and informed.
5. Set Priority Levels
No one likes to see a towering to-do list without direction of where to begin. Digital marketing campaigns can get overwhelming at times, and it is critical to set priority levels for various tasks and projects. It can be as simple as creating a shared Google Doc with every project broken down by task and using a color-coding method to set the priority level. (Red=high priority, yellow=medium priority, green=low priority…you get the picture.) This method makes the task list at hand more manageable mentally and will help to alleviate stress for the team.
Once a final product has been handed over to the client, it does not mean that the project is over. Discussing the end result and the working process with your team members will allow for crucial project feedback. Maybe your management style wasn’t effective or your chosen project management platform was a bust. Hearing direct feedback from the entire will ensure a successful product and working environment moving forward.
The Bottom Line
The success of a project relies on the team as a whole, not just you as an individual. Respect and open communication line will keep the team happy and well-connected, which leads to an on-time project and a satisfied client.