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PM in the City

I've experienced a bit of a learning curve after switching from my email marketing position to that of Digital Project Manager. To ease the transition, AYC Media's project managers (PM) and I have frequented a number of PM events and workshops. Most recently, we attended a workshop in NYC held by DPM Connect and hosted by Aretha Choi of Barrel and Brett Harned of Happy Cog. With roughly 27 attendees from 15 different agencies in the Northeast, there was a lot to learn for a fresh-faced PM like myself. 

To start off, we broke into groups and then were tasked with drafting a project plan for a hypothetical marketing agency website that was set to launch in 90 days. Thankfully, AYC Media's Senior PM, Natasha Baglin, and I were just recently tasked with a similar, yet more complex, 90-day project at AYC Media. After devising our plan, we broke down into smaller groups and presented our individual ideas to put together one plan to present to all attendees. Another group member had mapped a similar plan as I did, while another team member challenged us with his Agile sprints. 

What is a sprint, you ask? It's a cycle of work within a specified time. But the build of a product might be broken down into many sprints. 

Within each sprint, there is a meeting to determine what work will be completed within the sprint. This technique is often used in Agile development. Design, coding and programming complete within either a one, two, three week–or 30-day–span. 

AYC Media is not an Agile development environment, as that style of project management is more commonly found with software development. 

Here's my main concern in the sprint process: Providing clients with a fully designed, coded and programmed, two to three-page site to review before receiving feedback can present problems. This method complicates the process and leaves room for change of scope. Shouldn’t design be signed-off on prior to coding? 

In the end, we agreed to run a process of four, two-week sprints. It was presented to the entire group, and the feedback was that we came up with a solid plan. 

Learning about different agencies processes, applications and overall efficiency in project management has proven to be a great tool in honing our own process here at AYC Media. One thing that we are focusing on more as a group is collaborating on Assumptions. It’s not as if we didn’t take these into consideration before, because we did… just not as a team. Our goal is that this new method will eliminate, or at least lower, the risks that could creep up further down the road.

Additionally, there were several applications that were repeatedly mentioned that sparked my interest: Jira, Harvest and Conjure, to name a few.  But how can we, the team at AYC Media, use them effectively and efficiently to implement a clearer process? 

Many of these tips and recommendations have been discussed at the office throughout the past three weeks. Overall, the PM workshop in NYC and other DPM Philly events have been eye-opening and a great way to mingle, ask your favorite questions (what task management system do you like?), get insight into what other agencies are doing (and doing well!)  and get a conversation going in an ever-changing industry.  

Check back soon for further updates on our PM process! 

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