The beginner’s guide to becoming a creative project manager
When it comes to project management, every new project brings a new set of challenges.
Add in the complexity of creative projects, like design, video production, advertising, and brand marketing to the mix, and you have creative project management. Along with completing a project within project scope and budget, project managers have to navigate client expectations while overseeing creatives.
In this post, we’ll look at what it takes to be a creative project manager and how to manage creatives effectively.
What does a creative project manager do?
The definition of a creative project manager is someone who works primarily with creative people (like graphic designers, copywriters, UX designers, photographers) on creative projects ranging from website design to video production. Creative project managers have to foster inspiration and honor the creative process and project team.
At monday.com, for instance, creative project managers oversee the work of creative professionals who are working on things like video production, creating offline ads, marketing design and more.
If you enjoy working with team members across functions, have a knack for the details, and can balance creativity with managing business objectives (much like a traditional project manager), this might be the role for you.
What is creative agency project management?
There are a few key differences between working at an agency and working in-house within a company:
- One focus vs. many. For creatives and creative project managers who work in-house, the focus of all work is the single company they all work for. In an agency setting, the team and project manager are working with many clients, and thus have more variety around the subject of their creative projects.
- Depth vs. breadth. For in-house creatives that work for a single organization, they’re able to develop a deep understanding of the brand, its audience, and objectives over time. Creative agencies, however, work with a wider breadth of clients and therefore get less depth and more breadth when it comes to these aspects.
What is creative agency project management?
At a creative agency, a project manager leads its team to deliver creative work to a client, anything from marketing campaigns to website designs and creative productions.
Project management at a creative agency involves:
- Managing creatives. Creative project managers oversee a wide range of individuals. Depending on the nature of the project, you could be managing web designers, UX designers, copywriters, branding specialists, web/mobile app developers, and more. You’re leading a team of individuals with different skills and levels of expertise, all working toward a single goal.
- Managing time, cost, and scope. In creative project management, there are a lot of moving parts. From staying within budget to completing tasks on time, a project manager’s role is to ensure the team will deliver the creative assets that were promised within set parameters.
Key terms used in creative project management
Let’s next look at a few of the common terms used in creative project management so you’re up to speed on the vocabulary of this world.
What are creative assets?
Creative assets, sometimes referred to as digital assets, are visual files that help your brand tell a story (often for marketing purposes). Your creative assets could be a part of a marketing campaign (for social media, email, blog content, and the visuals that go along with them). Or, creative assets could make the product itself (like an e-book, course, or catalog).
For a video production company, creative assets include the visual footage, musical scoring, animation, digital logo, and more. If you’re working on a marketing campaign, creative assets include your logo, company photos—with different sizes for different platforms—written copy, videos, and infographics.
What’s a creative workflow?
A creative workflow is a set process to help your team complete a series of tasks. Instead of starting from scratch for every project, a workflow allows you and your team to move through your project with confidence. From developing a commercial to creating a website, all projects have tasks that lead to project completion.
It might look something like this:
- Receive client request
- Establish scope of work
- Brainstorm and delegate
- Create project timeline
- Check-in with team members
- Send for review
- Make revisions
- Send final project
With an established creative workflow, you’ll prevent confusion and promote your team’s efficiency.
What is creative resource management?
As a creative project manager, your role is to navigate and plan efficient resource management. There are two major creative resources to manage:
- Team. Creative marketing teams often have varied skillsets and strengths, so it’s important to know and leverage your creatives’ strengths were it’s most relevant.
- Time. Creatives work best when given a set of parameters, deadlines, and expectations around project turnaround–which is why time management is essential.
The key to managing creative resources is knowing what your team is capable of and then keeping them on task.
3 ways to manage creatives
1. Give recognition
Management basics tell us that all people (including creatives) thrive on recognition and praise. This is why using a project management tool like monday.com is so powerful: Everyone sees what tasks have been completed (and by whom.)
At the end of the week, you can help your creative team feel empowered and capable by celebrating those successes together.
2. Create transparent processes.
Creative teams need processes for planning, delegating, creating, checking in, reviewing, and implementing projects. Be transparent with your team about the purpose behind each step along the way, as well as about things like KPIs, workload, operations, and more.
Whenever possible, get feedback from your team to foster transparency. By being open about the thought process behind your workflows and asking for suggestions, you’re creating an environment of trust and collaboration.
3. Set clear goals (without micromanaging.)
When there are so many different pieces of a project, it’s easy to get lost in the details. You want the project done right, so of course you want to guide your team. But micromanaging will not only hurt your team’s productivity—it will also hinder creativity. Try managing the week instead of managing tasks and set clear goals up front.
As a creative project manager, you have to balance your team’s creativity and provide structure. Clear goals will help keep those two things in balance.
Improve your efficiency with creative project management software
Planning is hard enough. Without a system in place, it’s easy to get lost in the details or lose sight of the big picture. monday.com can help you plan and produce more creative content while helping your team stay on track.