Mad Men Advertising: Jobs Then & Now

The advertising and marketing world has changed significantly over the years, from the Mad Men era on Madison Avenue to today.

We’ve been binge-watching the series Mad Men through its final season. And we think it gave the advertising industry an interesting angle from the 1960s perspective.

Not only has the advertising and marketing landscape changed, but the mediums and marketing channels of the digital age paved the way for a new creative revolution.

Advertising meets the internet and wedding bells ring.

When the advertising industry met internet advertising in the early 2000s, digital media began to take over print and television. The ad campaigns of the Mad Men era became viewed less and less on billboards, radio, newspapers, and magazines.

Instead, the advertising industry shifted to internet advertising, using mobile technology, text, videos, websites, and software to market their products and services.

In the past decade, another wave of the digital revolution crests and breaks in the form of social media advertising.

The first social media sites were introduced, and the birth of smartphones ushered in the beginning of a wider range of platforms and social networking.

Evolving Roles in Ad Agencies

How marketing has changed over the years

In thriving creative environment of New York in the 1950s and 60s, the main source of advertising ideas, stronger relationships with colleagues, and more closed deals were parties.

And drinking.

The Mad Men executives’ strategy to work hard, play hard (if not harder) has been around longer than we can imagine.

Working in an ad agency, even today, is fun living in a start-late, stay-late, fast-paced agency life.

Mad Men also gives contrast regarding the roles of the individuals who work in ad agencies today vs. back then.

As the years passed, agencies observed more and more changes in how they work. Compared to the time of Mad Men, ad agencies nowadays have greater access to professional development tools, free or low-cost.

Also, we can easily get certificates through online courses.

The convenience of technology also paved changes in job duties and responsibilities then and now.

Before, executives and managers used to have a lot of secretaries to help them organize their schedules and work.

However, as technology provided us with organizing and scheduling tools, we no longer feel the need to hire tons of secretaries to help us get through a busy workday.

This way, agencies can save money on labor while remaining productive and efficient.

Another big change from the period of Mad Men to now is how we slowed down our fast-paced agency lives.

But we still play hard, just not during work hours.

Human resources prioritized health and welfare in the workplace, banning smoking inside the office and saying no to office drinking (except during office parties, of course).

So, in today’s marketing agencies, you won’t have to deal with a boss or workmate who has had at least ten cocktails before lunchtime!

The advertising business now offers a career path for both men and women. Society is more inclusive and open to diversity, honoring the contribution women have made in the advertising industry since the Mad Men era.

Advertising jobs then and now

Roger Sterling

Then: Head of Accounts and Partner

Back then, Roger Sterling would have had to help manage the larger, more prestigious accounts — Lucky Strike, Mohawk Airlines, and Jaguar.

Now: He would be a partner alone. Today a partner wouldn’t have as much involvement but would make occasional appearances when necessary.

To be more specific, the modern Roger Sterling would become a partner in holding companies. He still gets to manage people, just not that very much hands-on.

Don Draper

Then: Creative Director

He started from lower roles and worked his way to becoming the best creative director in the Mad Men era.

Now: It would stay pretty much the same. Don Draper would continue his duties as a creative director, though he may not be attending client lunches and vacations as much as Don Draper did.

Certainly not drink as much!

The audience watched how his creative director role evolved. We could see him change from a director who would make demands left and right to someone who lets his creative team roam free.

Many of us can relate to his character, as we usually witness this type of development in real life.

We can see how managers adapt to their working environment and the team over the course of their time together. Some develop bad habits. But they often develop best practices that focus on improving each team member’s productivity.

Peggy Olson

Then: Copywriter

Peggy Olson was considered an anomaly in her field in the 60s because she was a woman. It was rare for a woman to make it past their secretary’s desk during that time.

Now: This would essentially stay the same now as well.

In today’s world, you have far more gender diversity regarding copywriting. Also, you need a wide range of copywriting skills to advance as a copywriter in today’s internet advertising era — from social to email to print.

Modern copywriters can learn these skills from various resources such as self-help blogs and sites to online courses and videos on YouTube.

In today’s world, you can become a copywriter even without formal education as long as you’ve got the grit and, of course, your pen and paper like Peggy.

Pete Campbell

Then: Account Executive

Back then, the account executive would wine and dine clients and help sell new business. The team would take care of tactical work, and their role was minimal beyond knowing what was going on to foster a healthy client relationship.

Back then, they didn’t have project managers at all!

Now: Account Managers

Account managers do a lot. Most of them these days are also project managers OR have a project manager helping them.

Account people, as we like to call them, need to possess certain skills in managing the team throughout the project.

They’re creative, yet still objective in determining the crucial aspects of the task. However, despite all this knowledge, account executives still like to get everyone involved.

They are willing to hear what the team thinks, whether it be positive or negative.

In other words, as an account manager or executive, you get to lead people towards success.

Joan Holloway

Then: Office Manager

Ah, Joan. The one woman in the show who always knew EXACTLY what was going on in any project at any time in anyone’s office.

Herding secretaries like herding cats.

She ensured the office was running smoothly and everyone had what they needed to do their work efficiently.

Now: Operations Manager.

Just like an office manager, an operations manager knows every nook and cranny of the company’s operations.

They know where you can find the best resources at optimal prices.

Operations managers also provide insight into how the industry and the business work, giving ideas on how you can optimize production.

After all, efficiency is in Joan’s blood.

Marketing jobs then and now

But what about project managers?

They didn’t exist in the 1960s ads era. Everyone kept track of everything in the pipeline on their own.

With the changing advertising landscape, project managers started to became more and more necessary. Agencies saw that making the creative director handle the whole management process for an ads project just wasn’t feasible anymore.

So, agencies began to hire individuals capable of leading projects, no matter the scope and size.

Project managers have provided their expertise and other soft skills in leading the ad team and the creative director in making campaigns, whether billboards, commercials or other types of ads.

Incorporating project managers in marketing opened new opportunities and career paths for advertisers and managers alike.

This changed the advertising industry dramatically, further fueling the creative revolution. We’re still feeling the effects of it today.

Conclusion

A lot has changed since the Mad Men of advertising walked Madison Avenue in New York, cocktails and Lucky Strikes in hand.

However, one thing still holds true since those times:

Teams are needed to make successful and engaging ads.

The engaging storylines in Mad Men have made us remember how we worked before:

  • Stressful times call for a drink (or two!)
  • The team’s creative juices flow with the director or manager reviewing ideas
  • Job mobility through promotions and raises.

This way of work brought project managers into the advertising world. They helped agencies prioritize which tasks are essential for the success of an ad.

There’s no doubt that project managers are crucial even in advertising and marketing.

So, if you’re planning on welcoming a project manager to your advertising agency, check our Scale Map diagnostic to see how you and your project manager can grow your agency!

The Project Manager: Why They Are Important and What to Look for in the Resume Summary

A variety of factors contribute to the success of any project. One of the most essential components is the project manager. After all, the project manager is the one responsible for planning and executing the entire project.

Without a competent project manager at the helm, you run the risk of crashing into the rocks of missed deadlines, wacky budget mishaps, ticked off clients, and frustrated team members.

Ain’t nobody got time for that. And as you can see, a project management is critical for your business’s bottom line.

So, when hiring a project manager, you’ll need to know precisely what to look for in a project management resume.

That way, your hiring manager can find the perfect candidate with the project manager skills you need to stay in business and grow, too.

So, what exactly does a project manager do?

In general, a project manager will lead and guide the team on task completion for a project.

Project managers assign these tasks strategically, because it’s also a part of their job to know who’s the most capable for a specific task.

A project manager’s decisions will also determine whether individual tasks and the entire project is set to meet deadlines and remain in budget.

They know which tasks are within the project scope and whether the project will meet stakeholders’ expectations.

In this article, you’ll discover what makes a great project manager — the skills and qualities they must have, and what to look for in a project management resume when hiring.

We’ll also give you some project management resume examples so you’re not operating in the dark.

What to look for when hiring a great project manager

When you consider all the various duties and responsibilities a project manager has, it’s vital to carefully screen potential candidates for such a critical role.

The bottom line is, the person in this position can make or break the project assigned to them.

Also, a the vital thing to look for when hiring a project manager is to consider what specific types of project they’ll be managing.

The most important project manager skills you should look for in a candidate are:

  • Technical skills, if applicable
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills

In addition, many employers also consider the following when searching for a great project manager:

  • The tools and tactics the project manager will use to handle team conflicts
  • Prioritization skills for assigning tasks and deliverables in the most efficient order
  • Ability to discern outcomes of past projects within the field
  • Strategies for keeping a project on track
  • Ability to meet and manage project sponsors’ expectations
  • Knowing how to manage the team, including underperforming members
  • Ability to describe their own communication style

Of course, you’re free to tailor your qualifications according to your project’s goals and requirements. This will help you paint a clearer picture of how your potential project manager will fit in and guide your team toward success.

Skills and Qualities of a Great Project Manager

A great project manager must possesses the necessary technical skills.

But they should also know the ins and outs of the project so they can make good decisions about scheduling and assigning tasks to different team members.

Also, a great project manager should possess certain soft skills, whether it be for goal setting or meeting deadlines.

What do we mean by soft skills?

The following:

Great project managers know how to build relationships

One thing to remember in project management is that there’s no I in team.

Many projects, such as IT or construction projects have large, complex teams. These teams have members with varying communication styles as and different ideas on which deliverables should be prioritized.

A great project manager knows how to build relationships among team members and keep them intact.

This way, the team can still work together despite disagreements and differing viewpoints.

They can negotiate

One of the essential soft skills for a project manager is the ability to negotiate.

A great project manager ensures the project keeps on rolling and no stone is left unturned. To keep the project moving, they’ve got to constantly negotiate with various people — project stakeholders, sponsors, vendors, and the team.

A project manager’s negotiating skills are important in keeping everyone involved, dedicated, and invested in successful project completion.

They’re patient and empathetic

Let’s face it.

Some projects take months or even years to complete.

So, your team will face with many challenges, from tasks getting behind schedule or personal matters disrupting workflow.

Despite these setbacks, the project manager must be able to uplift their team members’ spirits. They should lend a hand when someone needs help.

Or simply listen team members’ needs and concerns.

A project manager who cares about their team makes everyone feel appreciated and motivated — a must for employee engagement and retention.

They’re flexible and calm under pressure

When working on projects, the team won’t always be able to meet expectations and deadlines for various reasons.

A great project manager, however, is capable of coming up with solutions whenever issues arise.

They must be able to handle stressful situations and think clearly even under pressure. This skill will hold the team together and keep the project from falling apart.

Project management skills cover a wide range of relevant technical and soft skills. Both types of skills are essential for completing projects and avoiding significant drawbacks or lapses.

So, when you’re ready to hire, go over the project manager resume with a critical eye.

Interview candidates thoroughly to uncover if they have the skills it takes to move projects along.

How to Find the Best Project Manager for Your Needs

No matter the industry, you’ll want to hire an applicant with the project management experience your business needs to grow.

A project manager with enough background knowledge and experience will become a valuable asset to the project and your organization.

But how can you be sure they’re the right fit during the job application process?

Here are some tips for hiring managers.

Evaluate your needs and the status quo

Before you can start hiring a manager, evaluate your needs first.

One major reason for frustration in the hiring process for project managers is not having a clear understanding of your brand and the organization’s status quo.

Remember, the duties and responsibilities that come with a project manager position are far reaching, and there may be a disconnect between your project manager’s experience and your needs.

So, before you begin the hiring process, ask yourself the following:

  • Is the project team experienced? Do they have experience with similar big projects?
  • Are you adopting formal project management systems and tools or using ad-hoc solutions?
  • With your work culture, can both self-starters and people with big agency experience flourish within your organization?
  • Do you prefer one over the other?
  • Based on the size of the project, should you consider hiring an assistant project manager as well?

Identify the skills the project manager role requires

After you’ve determined your broader needs as an organization, next on the list is to identify the skillset the project manager must have.

Make sure these skills are aligned with the duties and responsibilities of their role and what your organization requires for growth.

Additionally, your project manager will also need to be:

  • Able to schedule daily tasks for members and plan large scopes of work
  • Capable of creative problem solving
  • Capable of identifying and managing possible project risks
  • Able to give helpful feedback to both clients and production teams

You can add more skills to this list, especially if you require the project manager to be knowledgeable about a certain field.

Just remember that when evaluating prospective managers, stay away from shiny hire syndrome.

Remember the must-have skills you’ve listed previously so you get someone who fits what your organization ultimately needs.

Determine the non-negotiables

Once you’ve identified which job skills and qualities are needed for your project manager role, next is to determine which among these skills and qualities are must-haves for your applicants.

We highly advise that you sort skills, qualities, and qualifications into “must-haves”, “good to haves”, and “nice to haves”.

Always remember, those you put on your must-have list are non-negotiable.

You can involve your entire team when sorting out qualities in your list. Make sure you get feedback from people who will be working with the project manager the most. This would help you understand what the team wants from their manager.

Not sure what to include as must-haves?

Start here:

  • Excellent communication
  • Dedication to the team
  • Detail-oriented
  • Interest in the organization
  • Natural leader
  • Organized

On your must-haves list, include your red flags. If you see a lot of them, steer clear. It’s not a carnival and you will not have a fun time.

Red flags would include things like ethical violations, faked experience, or fudged credentials. Be on guard for these.

Post more informational and engaging job postings

Many organizations often fail to find the right project manager because of murky job postings.

Most job ads make the following mistakes, which are considered critical when looking for managers:

  • Talking too much about the company and not about the specific role
  • Unclear job description as well as an unclear explanation of the role and responsibilities
  • Exclusion of criteria for filtering applicants
  • Convoluted instructions for sending in an application

So, how do you avoid these issues and create a stellar, clear job posting that brings all the excellent candidates to your yard?

Remember that when creating a project manager job post, make it informative, but it’s ultimately sales copy.

Because really, what you’re doing is selling a position and the prospective project manager is a customer.

An example of an informative job posting would be those following the Role-Responsibilities-Requirements structure.

This framework identifies the role open for applicants, then follows with the responsibilities associated with this role.

Lastly, the framework lists the requirements each prospect must possess or meet.

Practice smart hiring

Increased technological use in the labor market has been prevalent for the last several decades.

So, jump on the bandwagon if you haven’t already.

You can also use technological advancements when trying to hire a project manager, whether an entry-level project manager or even a senior project manager.

Nowadays, organizations use applicant tracking systems (ATS) which are software that sorts potential applicants’ resumes.

These tracking systems weed out resumes that don’t fit the job description and requirements you’ve selected.

The result is a hiring process that’s easier, faster, and more objective.

What to Look for in a Project Management Resume

The Project Management Institute (PMI) expects the demand for project managers to grow by 33 percent through 2027. This provides more opportunities to each project management professional (PMP) as well as aspiring project managers.

When searching for a project manager, you need to look at your candidates’ resumes.

In this section, you’ll learn how to identify a great project manager’s resume and we’ll show you a project manager resume sample.

Skills section showcases their project management skills

The skills section of your resume will display what skills a person gained through their educational background and their experience. However, it may be tough to uncover the candidate’s core strengths.

The key to finding whether a project manager’s resume has truly captured the applicant’s strengths is to ask them why they listed those skills in particular.

This will help you uncover what skills they’re most comfortable discussing and in detail.

You’ll often find the following hard or technical skills listed in the skills section of a project manager’s resume:

  • Project management software such as Jira, Click Up, Monday.com, etc.
  • Microsoft Office
  • Google Suite
  • Experience in CRM
  • Reporting
  • Budgeting
  • Data analysis

Take note of the project manager resume summary or objective

Often, potential project managers misunderstand the difference between a resume summary and a career objective. A project manager should know the difference:

  • A resume summary gives you a glimpse of a project manager’s work history as well as their accomplishments as a project manager.
  • A career objective tells you what a project manager is looking for in their next project manager role.

For a senior project manager, look for a resume summary that exudes professionalism, and highlights their biggest accomplishment or goals in two to three sentences.

Here are some examples of a project manager’s resume summary:

Project management professional (PMP) resume summary

“15+ years of initiating and delivering sustained results and effective change for Fortune 500 firms across a wide range of industries including enterprise software, digital marketing, advertising technology, e-commerce, and government. Major experience lies in strategizing and leading cross-functional teams to bring about fundamental change and improvement in strategy, process, and profitability – both as a leader and expert consultant.”

(Biron Clark, CareerSidekick.com founder)

IT project Manager Resume summary

“Experienced project manager with vast IT experience. Skills include computer networking, analytical thinking, and creative problem-solving. Able to apply customer service concepts to IT to improve the user experience for clients, employees, and administration.”

(Sarah Landrum, Entrepreneur.com and Forbes contributor, and career expert)

Their resume tells the story of their previous projects

A project manager with some experience under their belt will usually include at least one big project they’ve completed successfully and not just one-off tasks.

Usually, the experience section in a project manager’s resume will discuss relevant details of a specific project to showcase their expertise:

  • Scope or goal of the project
  • Project budget and timeline
  • Team members involved in the project completion
  • Metrics and factors for completion and success of the project
  • Roadblocks they’ve encountered and their solutions
  • Collaboration made with their client’s or organization’s executive team
  • Project outcomes

An effective project manager resume provides you with a clear picture of the projects they’ve completed, their outcomes, and the skills they used to reach the project goals.

The resume provides information on specialization or industry experience

If you’re hiring a project manager for a specific industry, then you’ll want to look for the candidate’s experience and knowledge in your field.

For example, hiring managers in IT and technology companies usually review an IT project manager resume and a technical project manager resume — instead of a normal project manager resume.

This is the same when you’re looking for a senior project manager role.

You would most likely review a senior project manager resume. Or a master project manager resume than an entry-level project manager resume.

They have a diverse educational background and certifications

A project manager is never afraid of continuously learning from different sources, whether in school or job training. They’re proud of the education section of their resumes and will highlight their certifications.

A project manager’s resume will always include the applicant’s highest level of education.

An effective project manager’s resume for entry-level will include all relevant classes the project manager took that can convince the hiring manager of their potential efficiency and effectiveness in their role.

On the other hand, senior project managers have resumes focusing on their work experience as well as other project management certifications such as:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
  • Certified Scrum Master (CSM)
  • Professional Scrum Product Owner (CSPO)
  • Kanban Management Professional (KMP)

They’ll also indicate whether they underwent and handled lean training in the past as these project management certificates will make them stand out.

Conclusion

A project manager is a crucial part of delivering a successful end product. Without them, organizations would not be able to complete projects without significant variances.

Great project managers ensure sure that each project goes according to the plan, the budget, and deadline. It’s extremely important that you hire an effective project manager.

But before you can hire a great project manager, you need to first evaluate them through their resume.

Remember, an effective project manager resume will reflect the following crucial points:

  • A cover letter that aligns with your organization’s goals and objectives
  • Important contact information, work experience, skills, and education
  • Their history with project management represented in numbers
  • Specializations and knowledge only known to persons in the industry

The duties and responsibilities of a project manager are crucial, so you’ll need tools to help your project manager.

Make project management easier and more efficient with our PM checklist today!

How To Be A Better Project Manager

When you’ve got multiple projects going at once, your business can go one of two ways:

Fireworks. Yay!

Up in smoke. Womp womp womp.

Managing expectations, on-point resource allocation, and assigning tasks that play to your team member’s strengths are critical for completing successful projects.

So you don’t want to mess this up, project manager. Why?

Because project management skills are essential for guiding stakeholders’ expectations and overcoming project challenges and various project risks.

As a project manager, you job duties are to manage the team’s workload effectively. You keep the project on track and progressing. And your ability to lead projects will ultimately impact the output and growth of the team and the organization itself.

Effective project managers may have a project management certification under their belts. But there are many soft and technical skills necessary for a successful career in this field.

So, let’s get into the various collaboration tools and processes that will help you manage your team effectively and still get invited to parties on the weekend.

What Is Project Management?

At its core, project management is basically the process of leading a team that completes various projects. But there’s a lot more to it.

As a project manager, you wear many hats and spin a lot of plates:

  • Assign tasks that play to team member’s strengths
  • Manage tasks and keep all your projects on schedule and in budget
  • Check in on the project status
  • Deliver valuable products to customers

In addition, an airtight project management process ensures that organizations take advantage of all the benefits the project management process can offer. Namely, ensuring a high and replicable standard of deliverables.

Another important aspect successful project planning is that it helps businesses have a clear focus and goals for efficient product delivery.

However, utilizing your amazing project management skills is easier said than done.

Many digital agencies and business fail at project management skills is mostly due to poor planning. Another common pitfall is a lack of communication with an essential team member and not making the most of available project management tools.

This article will discuss techniques for becoming a great project manager.

Why it’s critical for the project manager to find the right tools

Every project management phase, from initiation to closure, is vital for success.

Automation has accelerated project management processes. To be a successful project manager, you’ll want to make good use of the many convenient project management software tools on the market today.

Some of these tools require the project manager to undergo technical training to use them accurately. So, you’ll want to find the tools that will help you master the must-have project management skills so you can level up you agency’s project management process.

A good project manager should find tools that work well for them AND their team members. Tools are essential for completing tasks such as resource management, collaboration, communication, team management, and reporting efficiently.

9 Reasons for Choosing the Appropriate Tools for a Project Manager

A savvy project manager understands that the appropriate software is vital to delivering projects on time and in budget.

All-inclusive project management tools enable you to achieve your goals, such as creating roadmaps, to-do lists, and scheduling. Some of the most popular project management tools are:

  • Asana
  • Monday
  • ClickUp
  • Notion

Lets take a closer look at some of the reasons good project managers use project management software:

It enables a standardized project process

Project managers can easily organize deliverables, dependencies, assignees, and complete tasks before their due dates. As a project manager, you must document all your deliverables and resources and transfer the details to the dedicated software to ensure coherence and cohesion among key stakeholders.

Enables smooth collaboration

Project managers can control the entire team from a central point, enabling them to manage remote teams. This makes it possible for successful project management and team project delivery.

Some examples of collaboration tools for project managers are Trello, Click Up, Asana, Monday.com, and Slack.

Important for task prioritization

These tools are essential for project management success because they help improve the productivity of team members and make task prioritization easier. A successful project manager should determine the order of urgency and assign top-priority tasks to project team members to complete.

Examples of prioritization tools include HubSpot Task Management, ProofHub, and Wrike.

Better team workflow

A great project manager ensures the entire team focuses on project tasks evenly without distractions to enable team performance. A combination of soft skills such as communication, time management, and project team management tools helps project managers organize each team member, assign tasks, and hit milestones.

It makes large projects achievable

Managing projects, big and small, can be hectic for the project manager and team members. A work breakdown schedule gives you a visual, step-by-step breakdown of big projects into smaller, more manageable project goals.

Check out 6 work breakdown structure tools to make the next task less overwhelming.

Improves reporting and tracking

Reporting tools allow project managers, team members, and clients to track activities and continually monitor the project data to ensure challenges and feedback are handled accordingly. As a result, key stakeholders are keep in the loop about the project’s progress.

Efficient resource management

Projects are usually allocated resources such as a definite time frame, budget, and materials depending on their size.

A great project manager who uses the correct resource management tools should be able to plan accurately, schedule, and apportion resources to complete the task. For example, Float, Resource Guru, and Forecast.

Ensures project documentation

A skilled project manager should record everything to ensure project success. Proper documentation and clearly laid out plans guide team members, managers, and other stakeholders to clearly defined goals and quicker progress.

Essential for project risk management

All projects are exposed to risks such as overspending, schedule delays, and requirement misses. A great project manager should use risk management tools to proactively list potential risks, ways to avoid them, and mitigate them if they occur.

To Over Communicate

Communication with your team, clients, and other project stakeholders should be realistic and honest so everyone knows what to expect. For a successful project management process, project managers need to be consistent, clear, and even give more information than necessary to the client and team members.

Communication is crucial for a project’s success in the project management world. As a successful project manager, you’ll need to be present in meetings and communicate with internal and external stakeholders.

Ways Project Managers Can Assure Steady Communication

To become a better project manager, constant and consistent communication is required. So be sure to:

Write everything down

Project managers must record everything from project planning to completion to quickly convey pertinent information. This will ensure that team members have all details they need to do their jobs.

Use project management COMMUNICATION tools

Project communication tools come in handy for project managers to streamline communication and keep everyone on the same page.

Having agreed channels to pass information to stakeholders helps the entire team’s collaboration.

Project communication tools include Slack, Zoom, Skype, ClickMeeting, and Google Suite.

Level up your communication skills

A good project manager understands that good communication skills are essential to a project management career. For some, the skill comes naturally. But for for others, they’ll need some additional training to sharpen their skills.

Be a team leader

Every project manager shows their team members the path they need to follow for a job well done. Communicating project requirements helps everyone work towards common objectives and goals.

Ultimately, you need the entire team working together for the project’s success. It requires holding your team members and yourself accountable for achieving milestones and deliverables.

Keep learning

As the project manager, you’ll be dealing with multiple stakeholders. Therefore, focusing on the project while addressing their interests toward attaining various goals is considered a brilliant, must-have project management skill.

Knowing team members’ personalities will enable you to work smart and utilize each team member’s strengths effectively.

Also, be ready to listen to team members questions and concerns. Act promptly to keep things humming along and everyone happy.

Be detailed and delegate properly

Project managers delegate tasks to team members daily. Being detailed enough with expectations allows for the accurate task execution, which avoids confusion and keeps the project moving.

Schedule meetings regularly

Project managers must consistently plan meetings through all phases of project management and regularly remind team members of the schedule. In addition, meetings are important for reviewing team performance and understanding project status.

Take full advantage of the meeting to ask questions and receive feedback. Encourage questions from team members so they can provide support if needed.

Have a Back-Up Plan

Always have plans A, B, C, and D! This reduces the risk of project failure. If one plan fails, you’ve got alternative ways to complete the project up your sleeve. Within the backup plan, develop preventive measures against scope creep.

Great project managers understand that having well-defined goals and agreeing with the client on scope will make management and delivery easier. In addition, communicating with team members, clients, and other stakeholders about the consequences of diverting from the agreed scope will reduce the chances of disappointment.

Having a network of other project managers is necessary for successful project managers. Consult with your colleagues if you face a challenges beyond your expertise. Knowing when to pull in subject matter experts who are members of other departments or external consultants is one project management skill you’ll want to sharpen.

Benefits of having a backup plan to manage projects:

  • Maintains trust in the project manager’s professional skills
  • Helps the team focus on the main objectives, making the entire project management process easier
  • Enables fast recovery of the project process in case of disaster, reducing downtime
  • Allows the project manager to switch to another plan, lowering overhead costs and increasing cost savings
  • Increases the project manager’s confidence to focus on the project without worrying about uncertainties

Conclusion

In the project management profession, the most successful members aim to fulfill every single requirement of the project. The best project managers work to improve their skills and find techniques that help them meet deadlines and complete deliverables that leave clients consistently impressed.

So, your recommended courses of action for improved project management are:

  • Choose the appropriate tool depending on the project scope, type, and goals
  • Over-communicate with all stakeholders to keep them on the same page for successful project delivery.
  • Have alternative project plans to avoid the risk of the dreaded scope creep

With an experienced project manager on board, the team will be more productive as they set goals and achieve them according to the set timeline.

Project team members will also be able to spot risks and potential problems before they become actual problems, since they’ve got all the necessary facts and tools at their disposal.

Are you working harder than a grizzly bear before the winter of project despair sets in? Get ready to eliminate the many project management challenges your business faces and finally take a breather.

Download the agency project management checklist for better project handling.

5 Stages of the Project Management Process

Project management detailsA project manager oversees all facets of an agency’s project management process. The clients, the resources, and the team—all roads lead to you. But are you ready to take on the role that manages not just people but entire organizations, their processes, and their deliverables?

Before you panic, take a deep breath and let us help you turn your anxieties and worries into the confidence and determination you need to ace the entire project management life cycle.

A project life cycle is a systematic process that offers clarity in the delivery of your projects. It benefits not only you as a project manager, but all relevant stakeholders as well. There are 5 phases to the project management process:

  1. Initiation phase
  2. Planning phase
  3. Execution phase
  4. Monitoring phase
  5. Closure phase

Each phase consists of specific activities that help you organize and control the entire project duration. Sound too good to be true? Read on to find out how the project life cycle can guide you in optimizing your agency’s practices and processes!

Project management process

Initiating a project

Before you begin the work, start the project by understanding the essential pieces. The first of the five phases of the project management process where it is important to establish communication channels and determine the feasibility of the project.

This phase determines the general lines of the project, where it is proven how much value adds to the company and gets its acceptance. The initiation phase is also where the technical requirements are laid out by establishing who your team members are and what tools you need. Project initiation also includes indicating the project’s goals in the project brief.

A project manager can also start to manage projects during project initiation by conducting feasibility testing. What is feasibility testing, you say? Feasibility testing is where you identify the primary problem (or opportunity) and verify that your project will address that problem.

Constructing a business case will also help weigh the possible costs and gains and decide if it’s worth moving forward with the project. This is a detailed justification of the proposed project, including a breakdown of the risks, benefits, and timeline, and it should be reviewed by the organization’s leaders as well as key stakeholders.

In addition to the business case, what other things should be prepared in the project initiation phase? Project managers also identify the business needs and put them in writing by drafting a project charter. It defines what your project is and justifies it with the results of the feasibility study performed. For more complex projects, a project initiation document is prepared so that all parties can review the project’s essential details.

Scoping out the project

The project planning phase involves identifying the project scope and other information to make the project initiation phase more specific. This is also the phase when you define in detail the specific objectives, deliverables, and roadmap of the project. In addition, it gives a more detailed rundown on the cost and project timeline required for the team to deliver the expected output. This helps prevent scope creep, so you don’t do more work than is necessary or planned. Scope creep may be lingering around, waiting for a loophole in this phase before it strikes, at the weakest section not handled in the planning phase, and boom, your project will eventually be heading towards collapse and a miserable fiasco.

Project management process

The planning phase may be one of the most significant phases of project management because this is where the project team meets for the first time and discusses the project plan’s inclusions through a kick-off meeting. It may also be the only opportunity for you to create a stakeholder register, i.e., a list of all involved parties and information on their role or interest in the project.

Aside from the stakeholder register, there are other components in the project management plan. For example, the project plan is a handbook guide that should be checked, revised, and updated according to the project’s specifications. Other documents required to be prepared and discussed in the project planning phase may include:

  • A risk management plan that takes into account all identifiable and foreseeable risks. It also includes planning out any project dependencies and their impact on the overall timeline.
  • A communication plan to schedule communication with external contributors. The communication plan also includes milestones and methods used to communicate.
  • A scope statement lays out the project scope, limitations, and exclusions on funds, schedule, people, and other resources.
  • A work breakdown structure based on project goals and scope. Also called the work breakdown schedule, it divides the tasks into more manageable pieces for your team.
  • A financial plan that pinpoints the estimated budget and cost estimates as well as the potential ROIs.

Project execution

The project execution phase is the implementation of the conceptualized project plan. It is the actual “giving birth” of deliverables as an output of working on specific tasks. Work processes are carried out together with tracking systems and status meetings to check if the project is moving forward. Status reports are provided to the project manager to modify the project plan and adjust the schedules of resource procurement and team members if needed.

Planned workflow diagrams are also central to the life cycle phase of project management. But what are workflow diagrams? These graphical representations give your project team an idea of how each step or task should progress, who is responsible at a certain point in the implementation of the project, and how the work is carried out from start to finish. Uniformity in performing a task is essential to standardize the quality, especially when it comes to repetitive functions. This standardization is also important when teaching new team members how to perform these tasks.

As project managers, it is also essential to have a reliable tool that will help make the project execution a lot easier to handle. Otherwise, how would you be able to divide your time and attention among all the aspects of the project coming and going in different directions? Project execution usually takes the number one spot out of the five project phases where getting organized is essential.

Software such as Asana, Teamwork, Monday, Click-up, and other online applications can automate various functions in your team. Using project management tools in the project execution phase efficiently syncs your daily or weekly tasks according to your specified order of importance and date of completion. You can also adjust schedules systematically and manage your time by keeping yourself updated in real-time.

Project monitoring

Everyone has a project management methodology that works for them. For some managers, it may be through Agile or Lean techniques; others may find Waterfall or Six Sigma more effective. What is important is making sure the chosen methodology works for you and your team.

The project monitoring phase is an opportunity to step back and take a big-picture look at the overall project progress, which is essential in ensuring the project runs smoothly. Key performance indicators of an agency are an excellent basis for measuring project performance. Schedule tracking, high-quality deliverables, monitoring expenditures, and utilization of resources are all crucial for a successful project management process.

Changes made in the duration of the project life cycle can also be evaluated during this project phase. For example, what are the problems raised? How frequently did your team experience the same concern? Who are the involved parties? Are the issues answered? How long did it take to be resolved? Documenting the answers to these questions improves the project performance and ensures that the project management plan is updated and on track.

While you’re at it, keeping all stakeholders up-to-date will provide transparency and show your assertive communication and management skills. Trust us, they will appreciate all those little updates (and spare you from the awkward “how’s it going” queries)!

Project close

Project management process

The last of the five project management phases is the project closing phase. The project closure phase identifies what you need to do to finally get approvals, close out the project, and sign off. A green light from the project management body, including external stakeholders, is vital before closing the project entirely. There is usually quite a bit of work to be done even after the final output!

The project remains like an unconsumed budget; closed vendor contracts, software subscriptions, and the remainder of other documents and resources should be appropriately released and turned over as soon as the final output has been delivered and the project finalized and established. The final project budget, along with the list of unaccomplished tasks and their commitment date of completion, should be specified to close the project formally. Finally, don’t forget to send final updates to ALL stakeholders! They may ask for a breakdown of the concluded project expenditures or ask for an evaluation to assess learnings and constructive reviews.

Within the team, you can control project closure by holding a project debrief for your agency. Discuss the failures and restraints you experienced during the project and give feedback on the team’s group and individual performances. This can help wrap up unfinished business and prepare team members to be emotionally and physically ready to take on new challenges. It is also a great way to celebrate and be motivated for future projects!

Key Takeaways

Knowing the five stages of the project management process makes you a better project manager and team leader. You become equipped with broader awareness, and the opportunity to practice your skills, on making project success a little less difficult. To review, here are the phases of the project management process:

  • The initiation phase is where all the general information about the project is conceived and justified
  • The planning phase constitutes the project scope, objectives, direction, and deliverables discussed in detail to prevent scope creep
  • The project execution or the actual process of constructing the product or service.
  • The monitoring phase deals with the tracking and controlling of project resources and overall progress
  • The closing phase is where the deliverables get handed over and approved, ending with an evaluation of the entire process and the learnings experienced

What will you gain by observing these stages? Your team will surely have more clarity on the procedures to be done and a motivated mindset knowing what to expect next. If you and your team dream of taking on your next projects with ease, then let ScaleTime help you scale up your project management process!

ScaleTime combines your agency’s project management processes and helps you optimize your team. With our SCALE Framework, Project Management Checklist, and proven-effective Sales Process, you can simply kick back, relax and free your time! So let us help you today! Take advantage of our free discovery session and watch your agency’s productivity and profits grow.

Lessons Learned: Project Management Example

Project management lessons learned, Lessons learned in project management

Want to get the most out of lessons learned? Project management example coming right up!

When you look back over a finished project, do you look at the positive side?

Newly formed teams worked well with efficiency. Senior and junior team members collaborate flawlessly. The project was finished ahead of schedule. Post-project reviews are encouraging.

Or do you focus more on your mistakes?

Members are always on leave. Lapses in communication. The client made last-minute changes. Underestimating project costs. Delayed project timeline.

Making mistakes is unavoidable. As project managers, it is essential to examine both the positive and negative aspects of a finished project to understand the lessons learned.

But wait, what are the lessons learned?

What are Lessons Learned Meetings?

The Project Management Institute (PMI) talks about lessons learned as documented information on project experiences, covering both positive and negative ones.

When project managers capture lessons learned, chances are that they will not repeat the same mistakes on their next project. What about the excellent feedback given during post-project reviews? Yep, processes leading to that are also evaluated and reviewed for repeating the same positive response on future projects.

By capturing lessons learned, a project manager can also build a critical review to share with other project teams how they worked and improve key points for the completion of the current project.

PMI also noted that while assessing good and bad experiences is critical, there is no proper use for past lessons learned without appropriate documentation. You’ll be surprised at how you and your team discover information to establish higher productivity, not to mention better organizational alignment for your agency!

An Example Six-Step Process of Lessons Learned

So now that we know the basics, how do we apply the lessons learned in project management?

Want to turn your lessons learned workshops around? Follow our six steps.

Project teams can find a way to learn from project leaders by creating a lessons-learned process. This way, you can have time for knowledge-sharing with your entire team. In addition, you can apply the knowledge from past projects to a similar project in future endeavors or new projects led by other project teams.

We know, we know. Project managers ask how the team’s experience was after the project, and it’s normal to hear every project member say, “Everything’s fine.” “Everything went OK.” Begin by including the lessons learned application as early as the project planning phase. Remind them during team meetings to have a decent answer when asked and to be more sensitive about what is going on during the entire project lifecycle.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are six steps of an example lessons learned process:

1. Identify the problems with your project team

Based on the newly completed project, past mistakes can be discussed with the entire project team, especially while this is still “fresh” in everyone’s minds. Other than the project manager, a selected facilitator may ask to complete a survey, jot down the events that may have been the crucial factor for the issue, or anything that can capture lessons learned through feedback. Start by asking questions about the causes of the problem. What happened? When and how did the issue arise? Where did we go wrong? By doing this, the team members involved in the said situations can help identify the issue’s root.

Identifying areas for improvement can also help distinguish why the project fell short of expectations or what lacked consistency in the execution of the project. It may be due to the same mistakes experienced in previous projects that caused project failure, or it may be new ones. The identified concerns and issues can have different natures and may be client-facing, internal, or both.

2. Identify the successes as well

During the lessons learned sessions, it is also essential to work on the project’s successes with the help of guide questions. What did we do right? What led to that success? How can it be duplicated? These successes are attributed to factors that can be repeated and included in future projects.

For example, if the team experienced commendations for collaborating well with unquestionable team spirit, was it because of the clear communication between members? Is it because their skills complement one another? Maybe because the project manager supports them as a whole and individually? Or it could be all of the above!

Understanding how the wins came about will ultimately help optimize the implementation of project management processes, risk management, project scope, and other aspects to make the team more efficient and productive.

Your lessons learned document will be valuable to prevent other teams making the same mistake.

3. Analyze project management lessons learned

After answering the three important questions: What went wrong? What went right? Where do we need to improve?

The next step to knowing the lesson learned is to organize the survey results and categorize them accordingly. Then, create a lesson learned report with project team members, especially key stakeholders.

You may ask why you still need to combine all these things. Here’s why: Analyzing lessons learned in project management allows you to do a project review. It should summarize the strengths of the project, the areas for improvement, the weaknesses of the project, and the recommendations. Project managers also document lessons learned to rate the project’s success and client satisfaction, and review everything with the team.

Finally, we can assess how to work on applying project lessons into action plans that answer recommendations in the lessons learned session.

4. Document or create new documents for best practices

When we share lessons learned with the project team, we let them know the survey results, feedback collated, and the lessons learned. When sharing the results, be sure to record team members’ thoughts about lessons learned and encourage them to look at what processes didn’t work this time. By doing this, team members stay motivated to learn how to improve their work in the future.

But let’s not forget to look at what processes in the pipeline did work and the notable ones that didn’t because they can contribute to creating new documents for best practices. These best practices are incorporated into existing business processes, technology, modes of communication, policies, procedures, and employee accomplishments.

Some solutions to document and apply cold include training and upskilling personnel, increasing accountability before a technology or process issue creates more damage, regular communication, consistent updating of critical stakeholders, managing strategies, and reevaluating programs as needed.

5. Store, update, or create new documents for those processes

The lessons learned template should be archived and stored in a secure place accessible to the project team, other project managers, and external stakeholders. It can also be stored in an existing project management tool, where the lessons learned report can be read and is available to share. A centralized drive or cloud storage can be a great option in today’s digital world, preferably open for access within the company’s local network.

What are the benefits of storing the lessons learned documents? First, keeping these reports available and active helps everyone become familiarized with the best practices, new team members can be acquainted with the agency’s project processes, and project managers can dig through these documents and effectively apply them.

6. Retrieve for use on current and future projects

Setting up a keyword search capability will help retrieve the lessons learned reports. Project managers must always refer to these reports before initiating the project planning phase to see if there are some projects and to avoid repeating the mistakes made in previous projects.

We can also look at the best practices involved in implementing a similar project and challenge ourselves to work on improving things. Finally, aim to discuss lessons learned reports during the kick-off meeting with the key stakeholders and project team members to help identify the risks you are about to encounter and the best mitigation plan.

Having standard processes and tools helps shape the consistency of the next project. The lessons learned template can be used as a guide, while other related documents can be categorized further to optimize the searchability of each topic in the lessons learned report.

The lessons learned method should focus on knowledge gained as well as mistakes made.

Conclusion

When we capture lessons learned after each project, we are one step closer to perfecting our project performance. We develop our project management system and streamline our business operations by regularly documenting and updating what we have done well, how we will repeat the same successful procedure in the future, and analyzing areas for improvement. We also follow a lessons-learned process:

  • Identifying problems and successes
  • Analyzing and organizing them
  • Documenting and sharing the issues with the entire team
  • Storing them in an easily accessible place
  • Retrieving and utilizing during the planning of the next project

Once your agency frequently captures the lessons learned in each project, it becomes a norm to continue your team’s commitment to improving themselves, the quality of their output, and the project management processes.

With ScaleTime’s Agency Project Management Checklist, you can start your way to making your project management life easier and more efficient. Check out our automated processes to eliminate bottlenecks and other project management strategies. Get your checklist today!

Effective Project Management SOP Example For Business Growth

One of the most crucial elements for project management success is organization.

Why?

Because a team without a concrete structure for managing projects will fail once it encounters a challenge. You don’t want your team to look like a bunch of renegade windup toys running into each other if the client says, “Jump!”

That is so not a good look for your project management skills.

All right, what’s the solution then?

You need a clear set of project management SOPs (standard operating procedures) that everyone can and will follow.

If you’re currently drafting your business’s SOP, or you need SOP writing help and don’t know where to start, here’s a guide and sample to help you kick-start your process.

Overview: What Is a Standard Operating Procedure or SOP?

Effective Project Management

A standard operating procedure or SOP is an official document outlining the systematic method of carrying out and completing a process. SOPs must be comprehensive, clear, and logical.

The major goals of an SOP are to:

  • Track project’s progress
  • Meet deadlines
  • Anticipate future risks
  • Achieve consistent results on repeat

The detailed instructions in the SOP must keep employees on task and on point with deliverables.

Drafting an SOP must-haves

Thorough research is needed to draft the SOP.

Stakeholders play a big part in making a successful standard operating procedure because of the practical knowledge they can bring to the table. They can state their industry objectives and ensure the organization gets the resources it needs.

Just as well, employees should contribute to the official SOP of a project since ultimately, they’re the end-users.

Drafting an SOP isn’t just helpful in the actual operation of the company. An SOP is also useful for training new hires and channeling their most relevant skills for the project’s success.

Also, an SOP will help new team members to familiarize themselves with company’s internal processes and their professional responsibilities.

The Importance of a Project Management SOP

Project management helps us get shi$ done — especially in business. Successful project management sets goals, how to achieve them, and when to achieve them.

In addition, it ensures that everyone in the development team understands and contributes to the project from start to finish. Furthermore, airtight project wrangling involves thorough planning, management, and communication.

What’s the importance of a project management SOP? Let’s talk about the reasons in detail.

Maintains Organization

Even though the project manager and everyone on the team already knows what to do when they encounter certain SNAFUs, the truth is, they won’t stay in the company forever.

SOPs help you employee-proof your business.

We need to make sure that even if a star employee leaves, the professional experience and knowledge they contributed will live on.

You’ll need to document these aspects as part of the SOP for project management. This way, you’ll ensure the organization will continue to move forward even if your star player puts in their two-weeks.

Guarantees Consistency

When your development teams work on a broad range of projects, it’s impossible for everyone to remember the exact processes involved in an activity they haven’t handled lately.

Anyone can get a little rusty. But an SOP greases those memory wheels.

Establishing clear, concise step-by-step standard instructions will help the team master the process of producing a particular business product or services over and over again.

It will help the project management team eliminate any possible error compromising the products or services.

Enhances Commitment

The SOP sets the metrics to gauge the improvement of employees’ performance and professional growth.

When team members follow the SOP, they’ll understand what the organization expects from them. As a result, they’ll strive for quality and contribute significant support to the project management.

Better Communication

Stress causes even the brightest bulb in the chandelier to fumble their words. When under pressure, we’re often can’t express ourselves clearly.

It can happen to some of the best project managers and team leaders. And when it does, there’s miscommunication and misunderstandings.

If something is unclear, employees can always refer to the SOP. Problem solved. Lights on blast.

Identify All the Processes Within a Project: Step by Step

Step by Step

If you write an SOP, it can seem like an overwhelming task — especially if you’re not one of those fancy-schmancy professional writers. So, break the process down into shallow steps so you can stay focused and organized.

Baby steps make everything less overwhelming:

  • Step 1: Project Scope and Objectives — Start with the end already in mind. What result do you want, who will do it, and what steps does it take?
  • Step 2: Project Infrastructure — This step describes the project’s motif and where it will fit in, and its nature or which infrastructure is involved.
  • Step 3: Characteristics — In this step, you’ll identify the project’s product and analyze its characteristics.
  • Step 4: Product or Services — Outline the final products or services the customer will get, including how all these aspects move through the supply chain before reaching the end-user.
  • Step 5: Estimate the Time and Effort for Each Activity — Every project needs a definitive start and finish date. Setting any dates, though, ultimately depends on how long any one process takes. So, plan your schedules along with budget management to produce the correct results on targeted dates.
  • Step 6: Risks — These are always present. In project management, you’ll need to account for any the risks involved in certain activities so you can either avoid or mitigate them.
  • Step 7: Resource Allocation — For successful project management (and business), allocate your resources and distribute them to the necessary projects to ensure workloads are evenly assigned.
  • Step 8: Review — The first draft of SOPs is then reviewed and tested to see if it will yield the desired results.
  • Step 9: Execution — The finalized and publicized SOP for project management is executed.

Voila!

Is This a Recurring Project? Could You Repeat It?

You can use and follow standard operating procedures again and again for recurring projects with processes that don’t change too much.

But for best practices, you’ll need to occasionally review and update your SOPs. The ideal frequency is every one to two years.

The review’s goal is to check if the procedures are still practical and feasible, and whether the focus of the procedure has changed. During the review, you can determine if the SOPs are still needed, or if you need to change or remove them.

You can also add additional details to further flesh out your SOP. Include the interval for future reviews in the updated SOP document along with an updates history.

How To Create an SOP

In SOP writing, there are several important factors to consider:

  • Goals — Defines the specific goals of each SOP. Provides precise instructions on how to accomplish each step accurately to achieve targets.
  • Assets — Refers to the tools, programs, software, spreadsheets, links, and other applicable information required to create the SOP.
  • Location — A centralized and cloud-based storage where the information for SOP is located such as Asana, Google Drive, Slack, Airtable, etc.
  • Tools and Resources — The tools and resources needed to accomplish a task or process. These tools and resources should be identified on the SOP along with important information about them.
  • Deliverables — Refers to the more tangible outputs you’ll achieve with the SOP.
  • Metrics — These are any particular metrics that evaluate and check if the processes are achieving your desired goals.
  • Instructions or Criteria — The SOP must have clear instructions for completing every procedure. It must also define standards to follow when working toward a goal.

Templatize It!

Template and plan

We made that word up but the point still stands.

Once you’ve established an official standard operating procedure, you can use it as the baseline format for writing SOPs in the future.

To get started, you can make a template from this sample SOP. You’re welcome.

How can you create the sample SOP?

Step 1 — Choose a document software program to create the template. You can go the traditional route with Microsoft Word. Or Google Sheets, Notion, Get Guru, Slite, etc.

Step 2 — Create a file for the SOP Template.

Step 3 — Define the SOP format. This includes the control block where you’ll outline the compliance standards, management information and dates. Then add header and footer with the company name or department’s name and page numbers. Lastly, set the page margin.

Pssst. A bigger page margin is needed if you’re printing and binding the SOP document.

Step 4 —Work that content and add your key elements:

  • Goal. The document’s goal must be written in one or two sentences. Be brief but concise. There’s no need for more elaborate details yet, oh budding professional writer.
  • Scope. A complete explanation of what’s tackled in the SOP that’s clear and easy to understand.
  • Table of Contents if needed. A list of the SOP’s sections along with numbers.
  • Reference Guide. List of other documents referred to in the SOP.
  • Definition of Terms. Organizational terms used in the SOP document and in the company.
  • Tools, Assets, and Location. This section provides direction on the assets and tools related to the SOP and the location of where to find these tools.
  • Tasks and Responsibilities. This section identifies who does a specific task.
  • Procedure. This relates to the instructions and criteria that you’ve identified for your SOP, broken down into steps that should be taken and maintained to achieve the deliverables.
  • Monitoring. This section identifies who is responsible for monitoring the SOP implementation and the metrics you identified for assessing the results.
  • History of Revisions. Date of revisions along with the reason for revision.
  • Signatures.

Step 5 — Finalize the SOP style. This includes the fonts styles and sizes, and paragraph styles. Make sure it’s on-brand.

Step 6 — Save your shiny new template file on a shared drive and inform the necessary stakeholders. Make sure to put it on Read Only setting so no one can copy or alter it.

Build the Framework for an Effective Project Management SOP with ScaleTime!

SOPs maximize teams’ efficiency and save organizations from potential future headaches. When implemented correctly, they can certainly take a business to a new level.

Remember to:

  • Start small
  • Define your goals and deliverables
  • Properly allocate your resources along with your budget planning
  • Determine your metrics
  • Give clear instructions
  • Use a template to craft a repeatable SOP sample
  • Update and review your SOPs

So, that pretty much sums up everything you need to know about creating an effective project management SOP.

Are you ready to get started on yours? There are tools available to make this process even better and easier.

ScaleTime‘s expertise is here and ready for you to plunder to take your business to the next level of awesome. Get ready to grow and hit your career goals with our latest tools and processes that save time, money, and bandwidth. With our project management checklist, you can do just that in a streamlined way. Check it out now!

Want to learn more about ScaleTime and how it can help your business? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and let us schedule a demo to get a bird’s eye view of your business’s full potential.

Here are 3 Easy Solutions that Stop Scope Creep in your Digital Marketing Agency

Office employees managing scope creep

Aside from that time you discovered you lack resources and have feisty unpredictable clients, allowing scope creep to happen is the most dreaded moments in your project’s life cycle.

Scope creep is the wolf at the door of every digital marketing agency. But that doesn’t make the dreaded scope creeper an inevitable (and uninvited) guest at the project execution table. To strike the scope creep monster in the heart with a silver bullet, you need a suite of solutions and processes.

The good news is, with scope creep always lurking around the corner, you can still protect your project scope. We’ll give you easy and manageable solutions in this post.

Ready to beat that scope creep? Let’s hit it right between the eyes with the following agency weapons.

Download our Project Management Checklist

What are the signs of scope creep in project management?

Project scope creep happens when you encounter changes after implementing the project plan. When the client asks for additional tasks or makes change requests not included in the initial project scope document, it messes up the costs, resources, and the project timeline.

Unfortunately, it also messes you up, and that’s something you definitely don’t want.

Having different stakeholders in the mix entails a handful of minds running in different directions all at once. Too many cooks in the kitchen equals scope creep.

When the shadow of scope creep darkens the land of your digital marketing agency, your team members and clients will:

  • inputs into the planned task list
  • Suggest additional features not included in the original project requirements
  • Implement their own unsolicited opinions on the project team’s scope of work
  • Make other small requests that harsh your agency mellow

True, additional new features on the final output make the client happy and ecstatic. That’s all good. But along the way, if the requests have bypassed the change control process, it’s an indication of scope creep.

Can your agency handle scope creep?

Scope creep may start as a deviation from what was initially agreed upon and outlined in the project plan. As a project manager, you might be afraid to negotiate with new clients, so you accommodate any new change request that hits your inbox.

But then, just two weeks later, your team members have already missed deadlines!

What you need are boundaries.

Prevent scope creep: Your first line of defense

Setting boundaries and going with a planned project schedule helps manage scope creep and prevent it from further ruining your timeline.

In most cases, clients boundary-stomp inadvertently. They might think that making revision requests ASAP is doing you a favor. But if these change requests are made outside the scope of the original (or even modified) project brief, then it falls under the scope creep umbrella.

And these little twists and turns aren’t doing you any favors.

Project scope creep is that freeloader friend in your apartment, who doesn’t pay rent on time or take out the trash.

You’re oh so nice. So you don’t say anything. You simmer and brood instead.

Next thing you know, your crummy roommate is inviting over their party animal friends, eating your leftover lo mein, and doing shots off your heirloom Stickley coffee table

Despite all the boundary-stomping, maybe you don’t want the friendship to end. But you might have saved the relationship early by communicating the house rules and learning when to say no.

3 ways to prevent scope creep in your digital agency

Scope Creep Managment

So, how do you help you help your clients help you, and prevent scope creep? Let’s get into the top strategies for managing scope creep next.

Revisit the project scope and document all changes

The first strategy you’ll want to deploy is monitoring the project schedule after the planning process. Unfortunately, it’s usually in the project execution phase that project scope creep occurs. And when it happens it snowballs, becomes even harder to stop scope creep from taking over your project.

Example:

A client asks for a new website, complete with personal branding and product uploading. All is well in the land of new client projects.

But wait! Not so fast.

Your team members suddenly receive a call from the client seeking to change the color scheme and theme.

Ruh roh. This will affect your specialists’ and developers’ tasks and will undoubtedly divert from the originally agreed project scope.

Handling new requests on the fly

Digital marketing agencies can easily face this problem head on and prevent scope creep while changing with market demands and keeping clients happy, too.

How?

Project managers must formalize any deviation from the original project scope via a change control process.

Why does this work so well? Because it allows project managers to accurately track project requirements and project deliverables.

A modification, or change request, not included in the existing project plan must be meticulously documented to ensure the change is accounted for and that changes to the schedule are anticipated and addressed.

Balancing team member’s expertise and bandwidth

Managing scope creep adequately also means balancing your project team members’ expertise and time.

For example, when emergencies cause human resources to fall behind, or team members prefer working on better projects, these also lead to scope creep in the existing and future project timelines.

In addition, project plan alterations can mess up other projects and delay these projects’ timelines.

Start with clearer communication

A successful project outcome can’t happen if you and the client have poor communication skills. You need good two-way communication.

Remember the exchanging of information between two or more parties? Yep. That.

It helps the project manager avoid scope creep when everyone involved knows how to listen and respond. Plus, it lets you know you’re on the same page with the clients and contractors involved in the project and execution process.

Host a kickoff meeting first.

Throwing a kickoff meeting with project stakeholders and project team members prevents scope creep from hamstringing your team.

A kickoff meeting lets you outline all the project details, no matter how small. It should be the the first meeting you have with all the parties who will participate in execution of the project.

What does a kickoff meeting include?

Ask away and get the answers to these most important questions:

  • What’s the project scope and summary?
  • How will we handle bottlenecks and contingencies?
  • Who’s working together on which deliverables?
  • What’s a reasonable turnaround time for each milestone?

As a project manager, you must communicate with project participants. And it’s also crucial that you and everyone working on the project (and the client) fully understand the project scope document.

Avoid too much verbal-only communication

To manage scope creep adequately, you need to communicate in black and white. You need to document, document, document!

Why?

  • Documentation keeps people accountable
  • It prevents confusion
  • Everyone can stay on the same page

Contracts, spreadsheets, written agreements — the sky’s the limit.

Documentation action steps

As a project manager, be sure to double-check your most important documents, such as clients’ waivers and amendments.

Have collaborators review and sign the documents. Spend time reading everything. Clear up any misunderstandings regarding additional fees and tasks, so you aren’t shortchanged.

What happens if scope creep starts a’creepin’?

Once scope creep begins sneaking in, inform stakeholders of the current project status and what actions you and the team must take to avoid further diversion from the project scope.

Never mislead your clients or team members. And make sure you know when to say no to client requests that will knock the project off course.

Gently remind your clients of the original scope if necessary to avoid further misunderstandings.

Also, keep in mind that information dissemination is a two-way street.

Avoiding scope creep means listening to client feedback during project milestones. Let them know upfront what to expect, so you’re meeting their expectations and keeping your clients happy.

Project managers, it’s never too late to use powerful project management software

Digital agencies face scope creep more than most businesses out there. Fortunately, you’ve got tons of tools and software at your disposal.

Chances are, there’s app out there that can help with your specific project management issues.

At first, it might seem tricky to start, install, set up, and invest in the app’s premium features. But, you’ll see how the setup is worth it once you’re halfway through your project — scrambling through receipts, folders, and papers. Or hitting CTRL+F in your spreadsheets to locate something your team created yesterday. And no one can find it.

But we want to stress — picking a gem from the millions of software tools on the market isn’t enough to fully protect a project’s scope.

Managing project scope creep: Implement efficient project management software.

Managing scope creep

Project managers utilize the right tools to watch resource allocation, change control processes, firm parameters, specific details on project goal updates, and overall, complete project work.

An effective project management tool or app lets you automate and sync, so you can do more with your time, putting everything into place and passing on essential updates to your clients and your team. All in real-time.

Project management software lets you keep an eye on additional requests from the agreed-upon scope to avoid missing deadlines.

Additionally, it lets you see the big picture and observe human resource utilization and capacity and your budget and cost savings. Reports are also automatically generated to help you analyze data and forecast the need for extra contractors or team members.

Bottom line: Scope creep-proof your agency!

In an ideal setting, you create a project plan, meet with your client, brief your team, execute the project and move on to your next assignment.

But this is the real world. And in the real world, it’s not that simple.

There will always people and events that make scope creep happen and cause you to lose control of the project. Scope creep-proofing your digital marketing agency may not mean eliminating scope creep totally.

Instead, implementing the tools and processes necessary to prevent scope creep prepares you for it.

Preparation also helps minimize your worries of scope creep developing into a larger, unmanageable boulder blocking your way to project completion.

Implement these 3 easy solutions to avoid scope creep and save the day:

  • Monitor your project scope and record all the changes
  • Constantly communicate with project members
  • Use reliable project management tools

With these solutions, you’ll stop potential changes in your project scope in their tracks with ease.

No doubt about it.

Manage scope creep with the help of ScaleTime!

Our Agency Project Management Checklist gives you access to vital project requirements, including 80/20 must-haves, key document templates, valuable metrics, and other features that optimize your project and team members’ expertise.

Streamline your process and say goodbye to lack of productivity.

Download the checklist here.

How to Manage Scope Creep in Your Digital Marketing Agency

Managing scope creep is a key part of project management.

Look at you, plucky project manager. You’re on your way to your fourth and much-anticipated milestone — setting up the last few details of your project plan! Yes!

Put your dancing shoes on, ’cause you’re about to party after this successful closing.

But wait, what’s that? The phone. It’s ringing. And it’s your client.

Womp womp womp.

All they want is just a tiny change in the deliverables.

Ugh. You thought you were on the same page with them. But no. You’ve gotta take off the dancing shoes, and put on the shi$ kicker boots instead.

Now you’re worried the project will fail with a big, fat F.

Where will you get the additional funds?

How will you tell the contractors? Or adjust the timeline?

And will there be any other more changes in the future?

So many questions are running through your head. So much for the party after completing the project. Dreams. Crushed.

As a project manager, you’re expected to manage, and protect against, scope creep over the project schedule duration.

Scope creep management: Why you need it.

Scope creep management allows the entire team (and clients) to stay on track with project goals, protect everyone’s bandwidth from hidden agendas, maintain overall job breakdown structure, and balance resource allocation.

So, are you up to mitigating scope creep? Yes? Good. Let’s get your digital marketing agency streamlined and ready to take on anything — even those last minute client requests.

What is Project Scope Creep?

It’s not as pervy as it sounds. But scope creep is super annoying. Scope creep is that thing that happens when clients make those little requests throughout the project schedule, throwing off your carefully laid plans.

Scope creep issues drastically impact the project’s schedule, cost, or final deliverables. You can start out with a particular project and know precisely how long it will take to complete, what all the deliverables will look like, and what it will cost.

But darn that scope creep!

If you don’t get a handle on it early, you’ll end up with a completely different project at the end. And a stressed out team, and possibly irate clients.

It’s like going to a bakery for a custom cake. But when you go to pick up your chocolate cake with buttercream icing and a dusting of coconut shavings on top, you’re presented instead with a bicycle tied together with duct tape and a cardboard kickstand.

That is not what you signed up for.

So, these scope creep changes can, at most, entirely block the project’s progress. Or, they can result in different, low-quality deliverables.

Good news — hope is not lost when the scope starts creeping.

Learning how to avoid scope creep, and manage project scope with finesse is possible. It’s also a must if you want to advance in your career as a project manager. Changes in project scope are pretty much par for the course in this field of work.

Before we get into how to manage scope creep, let’s take a closer look at what often causes these hiccups in the road to successful project completion.

Common scope creep causes:

  • Miscommunication during the project planning phase. Goals end up being completely different
  • Outside forces like economic and environmental conditions impacting the project schedule
  • Project politics or leadership drama resulting in confusion among the project team members
  • Ad spend, milestone, or deliverable changes

This list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the picture. Let’s dive into some examples of scope creep next.

Examples of what scope creep is and isn’t

Let’s take the example of a website client. The client asks for a slightly different website redesign that you and your team agreed on at a specific price. Technically, that’s not considered scope creep.

Maybe they want the Green Tea instead of Black Coffee theme. No biggie. It doesn’t cost anymore, or take anymore time to manage this change.

But this is scope creep:

Instead, the client tells you over the phone to add all the optimization, integrated social media accounts, and advertisements to your new site. This is more time. More money. And totally different sets of milestones.
It’s not just a redesign job anymore. This is way more involved and an example of scope creep.

Keep in mind, scope creep doesn’t always show up as a whole phase or section of the project being modified. Often it starts as tiny, minimal alterations to the original scope.

Adjusting the website to match the client’s new branding palette midway through the project, for example, would add unforeseen time to your team’s work schedule. This is way different than what you and the team bargained for, and would be classified as scope creep.

Most cases of scope creep are innocent.

But occasionally, one party might have a hidden agenda. A lack of awareness of scope creep can put your agency at risk from disingenuous clients who make a deal for one deliverable but plan to sneak other projects in under the same umbrella.

This is no bueno and it’s the type of scope creep you want to avoid at all costs.

Project Management and Scope Creep

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), project scope is the work required to output the project deliverables.

Project managers must characterize the project scope at the outset. If alteration requests should occur, they must undergo a formal change management process. This protects everyone’s sanity from the insanity of a project going off the rails from scope creep.

What’s in a project’s scope? That which we call a creep by another other name is still a creep.

So, the scope of a project must include a breakdown of work to be done and instructions for any changes.

Any changes throughout the project must enforce a step-by-step procedure that follows the change management process.

Like so:

When it comes to working without a tight project scope, you’ve got to learn how to maximize your project method and use it to your team’s advantage.

Project failure comes in different forms, including:

  • Poor estimation and prioritization
  • Disagreement on how to handle changes
  • A lack of sign offs,
  • Missing review processes to manage change requests

Now that we’ve defined scope creep and project scope, let’s dive into how to avoid scope creep or mitigate scope creep should it occur.

How can you control scope creep?

Project scope creep happens to the best project management teams. Use these tools and tactics to keep your projects on task and in-budget as your team heads for the glorious finish line.

Create a project budget

Often, the biggest risk you can take on if you don’t wrangle that scope creep beast is budgeting issues. Wasted time is wasted money. And taking on seemingly small changes to the project that aren’t in the budget will nickel and dime your agency into the poorhouse.

So, protecting the project budget is mission critical.

The project budget should be adequately defined during the project’s planning phase. Include project stakeholders — your client and each team member — during the process. Agree on a precise project budget based on properly calculated estimates.

Deficient budget estimates in a project plan can cause delays in the later part of the project, which is a sure sign that scope creep is already developing. A comprehensible project budget will also limit requests for additional funding, if not totally eliminate them.

Estimations

Estimations should be based on proper research together with the project team. Collaborate on the estimates and avoid making wild guesses. When using a pricing model, consider both time and resources to develop a more precise estimate and prevent scope creep in project management.

As a digital marketing agency, progress payments are essential to ensuring your revenue or, at the very least, some working capital. Invoicing for work done in advance can also update you on the volume of work you’ve already completed and help you cover any ongoing expenses.

You must invest time considering all costs involved in the most efficient manner. Any budget proposals and cost breakdown issues should be cleared before executing the project.

That way, you can meet clients’ deliverables on time and uphold your agency’s reputation in carrying out the project scope.

Face ALL change requests

The best project managers handle each change request as it arises.

Getting back to change requests that arise during the project’s duration is one of the most critical responsibilities involved in scope management. Even though you know this is a tedious, time-consuming task, you’ve still got to do it.

In any project, scope creep arises from not answering these requests.

It may take up a whole day or just a few minutes before you clock out to answer these requests. But regardless, they need to be addressed promptly, no matter what.

Remember to inform all parties involved, so they know all the measures and steps necessary to fulfill amended project requirements and still ace at preventing scope creep. But more on communication later.

All the approved, rejected, and resolved change requests must be organized and logged in the project’s change plans.

According to PMI, this allows reviewing and adequately documenting all requests and integrating them while considering all possible project risks.

Conduct a special meeting called a risk workshop and include appropriate risk responses to minimize unforeseen considerations.

Create a timeline and stick to it.

A clear work breakdown structure helps reduce scope creep.

The ideal setup is creating a timeline and following it to the letter. However, in every project plan, there will always be unavoidable bumps.

The key here is simple:

Be realistic about what you can accomplish in the allotted project timeline.

Define detailed requirements and milestones with project team members. Give space for contingencies and allow some wiggle room and flexibility while creating your timeline.

Doing so will assist you in maintaining your schedule and provide you with the opportunity to regroup and prioritize or de-prioritize tasks and change requests.

You also need to consider how quickly each team member can work so you’ll have an idea of how long they’ll take to complete the various assignments.

But not so fast — creating a timetable doesn’t end there.

You have to keep track of it consistently, religiously. Watch out for red flags outside your control like marketing conditions and global phenomena that may affect prices, contractors, and even clients’ businesses, which can trigger change requests.

Set REASONABLE boundaries

A lack of boundaries can lead to failed projects when scope creep occurs.

  • Don’t take on more than you can handle. Be willing to say no to a particular project phase when necessary.
  • Be transparent and practical when laying down the project limitations with a specific time, cost, and scope.
  • Include these in the scope management plan.
  • Don’t hesitate to inform key stakeholders of the realistic expectations on the project scope before work begins.

Addressing boundaries is also a confident move to preserve leadership and authority as a project manager. It minimizes a project’s complexity and keeps you in control of the situation and your schedule.

You may have said yes to a few requests. But the ability to contain the damage and work within the given resources should remain intact for the project’s duration.

Five-star communication

Communicative change control processes keeps the whole team in the loop

Constantly update all involved parties on the progress, timelines, missed deadlines, and expectations.

Poor communication can result in surprises — unpleasant surprises, that is.

Remember, changes in the agreed-upon scope with the key stakeholders and project sponsor are not considered scope creep.

On the other hand, scope creep is when you have poor communication among stakeholders, disorganized documentation of new features, and out-of-date change control systems. These issues doom projects to failure.

Your project deliverables may be reaching a five-star rating. But, if your project teams’ communication is merely a one-star meh, you need help addressing scope creep.

All new requests based on the original scope should undergo the standard change management process, including:

  • updating new features
  • Documenting project charter amendments
  • Ensuring you’re on the same page with modifications in the scope statement.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Laying out expectations, budgets, and having a process for managing scope creep change requests is critical for your agency’s reputation and revenue.

Bottom Line for Project Managers

Consider looking at scope creep positively. It’s a type of change, and change is the only thing permanent in this world.

If you can’t see what’s missing or putting unnecessary stress on your systems, then you’ll have no opportunity to grow into the best project manager EVAH if you don’t allow for some scope change as the project runs its course.

Sure, handling scope creep is a challenging part of being a project manager. But one of the good things for today’s project managers is that technology is readily available to help you see through the despair and onward to the wins of change.

Pro tip:

Monitor change requests, work progress, invoices, and payments through reliable project management software.

A handy project management tool paired with a powerful agency framework can help you unite your team and spare you from the effort of juggling phone calls and client visits while taking care of your spreadsheets.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Let ScaleTime show you the way to better project management.

Scope management plans for successful projects are made easy with ScaleTime. Handle scope creep in project management by optimizing your digital agency’s systems and processes. Let us help you automate and streamline your business by downloading the Agency Project Management Checklist here!

What Makes A Good Project Manager

project manager leading meeting

Hiring a project manager?

Many people know project managers only by what they do: kickoff calls, project schedules, budgets and charts. Processes and procedures designed to help them help you stay on top of your projects. But that merely scratches the surface of what makes a project manager good at what they do.

In truth, while others flounder over projects like a fish out of water, project managers stay calm, cool, and collected. They keep things running smoothly, get the job done on time, and leap over hurdles as gracefully as a swan in mid-flight.

But just how do they do it? And what should you look for to ensure the next one you hire can do it too? Find out what it takes to be a good project manager in this insightful post.

Stellar Communication

project manager solving a problem

Good project managers and good communication are synonymous.

Not only will they put systems in place in order to keep things on track throughout all phases of a project, but clearly communicate statuses, deadlines, milestones, and achievements to ensure that everything is on track.

Download our Project Management Checklist

Strong Problem Solving Ability

project manager practicing teamwork

Being able to quickly solve problems–on the spot and on the fly–and especially on behalf of stakeholders–is perhaps the greatest skill that a PM can possess. After all, whether they’re discussing campaign performance or communicating with a client, good project managers need to adapt quickly and pivot on their feet.

Moreover, when working with team members, strong problem-solving and communication skills come hand in hand, granting PM’s with the seemingly magical ability to wrap their head around complex problems in minutes, and explain them to team members or stakeholders in seconds–and in ways that make sense to them.

The lesson: when looking for a project manager for your business, find one who’s good at rapidly understanding problems, as well as coming up with (and communicating) realistic solutions to solve them.

Delegation Avoids Disaster

In life and in business, you can’t do it all yourself. To avoid disaster, you have to learn to ask for help.

That’s why outstanding project managers know that delegation is one of the most important parts of their job. By delegating tasks to the right people, PM’s are able to balance the workload between team members to get everything done on time.

Moreover, by identifying the right person for the right job, good project managers learn to let Doug in marketing, Lucy in finance, and Mark in sales, do what they do best.

By delegating tasks based on skill set (not based on who has the lightest workload) PMs are able to ensure that tasks meet their deadlines and execute flawlessly each time–making the entire team more productive and efficient as a result.

Pro tip: For the project manager of your own agency, look for one who jumps at the chance to get to know your team members and who delegates tasks based on their own unique skill sets.

Honesty Is The Best Policy

project manager being honest

Mistakes happen.

All the more so for projects with multiple deadlines, stakeholders, and goals.

That’s why for project managers, it’s best to be honest and forthright with clients. As well as to handle blunders with a no small degree of tact. After all, there may be some information best left not disclosed with clients–and it’s always better to let someone have it your way.

Discovering the balance between honesty, tact, and concealment is an essential quality of the project manager’s role, and something to certainly look for when finding one for your agency.

Enthusiastic & Emphatic

good project manager being enthusiastic

Trick question: what do the words gusto, spirit, ardor, zest, verve, or chutzpah have in common?

They all describe the energy of the very best of project managers.

How so? It’s simple: the best project managers rally others around getting stuff DONE!

And, they easily do that by being the most enthusiastic (and empathetic) person in the room.

Project managers not only care (deeply) about the work their team is doing–but take the lead to make sure it happens on time.

By being enthusiastic about the work, and empathizing with the needs of the people they manage, they can encourage team members to get stuff done on time and to spec–with as little hand-holding (or hand-ringing) as possible.

Looking To Find The Best Project Manager For Your Business? Let Us Help

Hiring a new project manager for your agency?

Need help finding the perfect one?

Schedule your free strategy session to find out how we can help you secure a first-rate project manager for your business or agency–so that you can get stuff done on time (and on budget) and grow your business faster than a caffeinated cheetah.

How to Manage Scope Creep in Your Digital Marketing Agency

You are currently on your way to your fourth milestone: setting up the last few details of your project plan, ready to party after a successful closing.

Your phone rings: the client wants to request a change in the deliverables.

You thought you were on the same page with them, but now you are sure the current project will fail. Where will you get the additional funds? How will you tell the suppliers? How will you adjust the timeline? Will there be any other changes in the future?

So many questions are running through your head. So much for the party after completing the project. Dreams. Crushed.

As a project manager, you are expected to manage, if not avoid, scope creep over the project schedule duration. Scope creep management allows the entire team to stay on track with project goals, avoid hidden agendas, maintain overall job breakdown structure, and balance resource allocation.

Are you up to mitigate scope creep? Then, let’s get your digital marketing agency ready.

 

What is Project Scope Creep?

When project managers encounter change requests on the project requirements during the implementation of the project schedule, project scope creep happens. These may block the project’s progress or result in different or low-quality deliverables.

Causes of scope creep may include the following:

  • Miscommunication during project planning
  • Outside forces like economic and environmental conditions
  • Project politics or ‘leadership drama’ which leads to confusion between the project team members

Let’s take the example of a website client. If the client asks for a website redesign that you and your team agreed on at a specific price, that would not be considered scope creep. However, if the client then tells you over the phone call to add all the optimization, integrated social media accounts, and advertisements, you would instantly recognize that as scope creep.

But scope creep doesn’t always show up as a whole phase or section of the project being modified. Often it starts as tiny minimal alterations to the original scope. Adjusting the website to match the client’s new branding palette mid-way through the project, for example, would add unforeseen time to your team’s work schedule, and would be classified as scope creep.

Most cases of scope creep are innocent, but occasionally one party might have a hidden agenda. A lack of awareness of scope creep can put your agency at risk from disingenuous clients, who make a deal for one deliverable but plan to sneak other projects under the same umbrella.

Project Management and Scope Creep

We all know what project scope is. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), “project scope is the work required to output the project deliverables.” The scope should be characterized clearly, and any alterations should only be conducted under a formal change management process.

The scope of a project includes a breakdown of work to be done and instructions for any changes. Any changes throughout the project must be controlled through a structured change management procedure.

When it comes to working without a tight project scope, you must learn how to maximize your project method and use it to your team’s advantage. In agile projects, for example, the overall project is broken down into smaller stories which is an excellent way of managing scope creep. In addition, it welcomes changes openly as part of the customer’s competitive advantage. The Agile method manages projects by diving into the details and the calendar.

But because Agile teams lack a fixed scope, project failure comes in the forms of poor estimation and prioritization, disagreement on how to handle changes, and missing processes to manage change requests.

How can a Project Manager Control Scope Creep?

Create a project budget

The project budget should be adequately defined during the project’s planning phase. Include project stakeholders – both your client and each team member – during the process and agree on a precise project budget based on properly calculated estimates.

Poor budget estimates in a project plan can cause delays in the later part of the project, which is a sure sign that scope creep is already developing. A comprehensible project budget will also limit requests for additional funding if not totally eliminate it.

Estimations should be based on proper research together with the project team. Collaborate on the estimates together and avoid making wild guesses. When using a pricing model, consider both time and resources to develop a more precise estimate and prevent scope creep in project management.

As a digital marketing agency, progress payments are essential to ensure your revenue or, at the very least, some working capital. Invoicing for work done in advance can also update you on the volume of work you have already completed and cover any ongoing expenses.

Project managers must invest time considering all costs involved in the most efficient manner. Any budget proposals and cost breakdown issues should be cleared before executing the project to meet clients’ deliverables on time and uphold your agency’s reputation in carrying out the project scope.

Face ALL change requests

Getting back to change requests that arise during the project’s duration is one of the most critical responsibilities involved in scope management. As a human, you know that this is a tedious, time-consuming task you must face.

In any project, scope creep arises in not answering these requests. It may take up a whole day or just minutes before you end your work, but they need to be addressed and given attention. Keep in mind to inform parties involved so they know all the measures and steps to fulfill amended project requirements and still ace preventing scope creep (more on communication later!).

All the approved, rejected and resolved change requests must be logged in the project’s Perform Integrated Change Control process. According to PMI, this allows reviewing and adequately documenting all requests and integrating them while considering all possible project risks. Conduct a special meeting called a ‘risk workshop’ and include appropriate risk responses to minimize unforeseen considerations

Create a timeline (and stick to it!)

The ideal setup is creating a timeline and following it to the dot. But in every project plan, there will always be unavoidable bumps and humps. The key here is simple: be realistic about what you can accomplish in the project timeline allotted.

Define detailed requirements and milestones with project team members. Give space for contingencies and allow some wiggle room and flexibility while creating your timeline. Doing so will assist you in maintaining your schedule and provide you with the opportunity to regroup and prioritize or deprioritize tasks and change requests.

You also need to take into account the expertise of your team members so you have an idea of how long it takes to work on an assignment.

Creating a timetable does not end there. You have to keep track of it consistently, religiously. Watch out for red flags outside your control like marketing conditions and global phenomena that may affect prices, suppliers, and even clients’ businesses which can trigger change requests.

Set REASONABLE boundaries

Don’t take on more than you can handle, and be willing to say no to a particular project phase when necessary.

Be transparent and practical when laying down the project limitations with a specific time, cost, and scope. Include these in the scope management plan. Don’t hesitate to inform key stakeholders of the realistic expectations on the project scope before the project begins.

Addressing boundaries is also a confident move to preserve leadership and authority as a project manager. It minimizes the complexity of a project and keeps you in control of the situation and your schedule. You may have still said yes to a few requests, but the ability to contain the damage and work within the given resources should remain intact for the project’s duration.

Five-star communication

Constantly update all involved parties on the progress, timelines, missed deadlines, and expectations.

Poor communication can result in surprises – unpleasant surprises, that is. Changes in the agreed-upon scope with the key stakeholders and project sponsor are not considered scope creep. On the other hand, scope creep is when you have poor communication between stakeholders, disorganized documentation of new features, and out-of-date change control systems that are doomed to make projects fail.

Your project deliverables may be reaching a five-star rating. but if your project teams’ communication is merely a one-star meh, you still need help addressing scope creep.

All new requests based on the original scope should undergo the Perform Integrated Change Control process, including updating new features, documenting project charter amendments, and ensuring you’re on the same page with modifications in the scope statement.

Bottom Line for Project Managers

Consider looking at scope creep positively. It is a type of change, and change is the only thing permanent in this world.

You will not be able to see what’s missing or lacking or even distressing your systems, and you have no opportunity to grow into the best project manager if you don’t allow for some scope change as the project runs.

Handling scope creeps is a challenging part of being a project manager. One of the good things nowadays is that technology is readily available to help you see through despair. Monitor change requests, work progress, invoices, and payments through reliable project management software. A handy project management tool paired with a powerful agency framework can help you unite your team, spare you from twice the efforts of juggling phone calls and client visits while taking care of your spreadsheets.

Sound too good to be true? Let Scaletime help you!

Scope management plans for successful projects are made easy with ScaleTime. Handle scope creep in project management by optimizing your digital agency’s systems and processes. Get a FREE Discovery Session with our Scale Strategists here!