The seventh in the BIMA CSD Breakfast Series

7 Mar 2016

Posted by Anna Doyle

The seventh in the BIMA CSD Breakfast Series
Project Management vs Account Management
Hosted by VML
1st of March 2016
lead by Amanda Farmer of VML and Emma Nicol of Amaze


A huge thank you to Amanda Farmer and VML for hosting a packed out room for the seventh BIMA CSD Breakfast on 1st March. Insightful opening remarks were made by Amanda Farmer, CSD at VML and the session was moderated by Emma Nicol, CSD at Amaze.

We welcomed senior client service professionals from: DBD Media; DF London; DigitasLBi; ELEKS; Head London; Manifesto; Ogilvy&Mather; ORM; Passion Digital; Redweb and Seven.

Before the discussion got into full swing I picked up the following phrases being murmured across the table in relation to the PM vs AM theme: it is a contentious issue; we have been grappling with it for years; what is the right balance?; what am I?. Despite the length of time that this issue has been debated it was still considered around the table to be an “evolving theme”.

Amanda’s candid opening comments lead to lively debate about managing technical creative output in an ever changing environment and ensuring you get the most out of your PM and AM team. Below I have listed some of the challenges and issues raised:

Meeting the clients’ expectations: Selling the value of both roles to the client. Clients will often see AM as the cost of business to the agency. Some in the room explained they changed the team structure for each client and project to meet its specific need and found this worked well. Campaign vs Retainer work changes the focus of the roles. It was noted that agencies are being asked to deliver projects requiring a vast and diverse range of skills and this creates another set of challenges which can sometimes be offset by collaborating with specialist agencies.

The changing role: Scrum based teams automatically changes the role of the PM. PM’s are developing broader skills sets. Having a team of hybrid PM/AMs rather than individual roles was mooted and the challenges identified were finding the people who had the skills and also the desire to take on this role. Moreover, by creating the hybrid role you lose the, often healthy and productive, friction created between PMs and AMs within a team. To get around this you need to have excellent quality control procedures in place. The size of the agency is also something that can impact this approach. Whether the roles are hybrid or not, there was concurrence around the table that we need to be fluid and flexible to respond to, and address, the client needs (including having the confidence to say what the client might not want to hear).

Growing the team: Again, whether the roles are hybrid are not there was still some discussion around the table about how to develop and utilise the team in the early to mid-level of their career (those with 5 or 6 years of experience). How do we escalate this groups’ range of skills to the next strategic level without many years of service and experience?

A great AM is a Consultant, a relationship manager and a business analyst. A great PM is a strong analytical practitioner with client facing qualities.

The product: We need to keep sight on delivering high quality and high value output. Having production people at board level and also on every project from the get go is crucial to achieve this. The quality of output should be a responsibility of the PM and the AM and there was some discussion around the table as to who had ultimate responsibility for delivering a project successfully.


  • We need to brave and innovative in our thinking
  • We need to address the challenges, such as looking at the consultant model
  • How do we grow talent?
  • We need to be passionate about the craft of account management.

What next?

Because this event was booked out we are running it again on 22 March contact Anna at BIMA for more information.

We will then be taking some of the themes discussed at these meetings to build into future events to drill down to the gnarly detail (watch this space).

Additionally, we will be running further CSD roundtables to address other crucial CSD issues.

If you are not already part of the BIMA CSD community and this stuff is at the heart of what you do contact to join.

Anna Doyle
Posted by Anna Doyle

A member of the BIMA Team since 2012, Anna‘s time is focused on the day-to-day operations of BIMA, building BIMA communities across regions and disciplines and, best of all, spending time with BIMA members to learn more about their business challenges and aspirations. Based in Glasgow, Anna is also responsible for delivering member services and support for BIMA Scotland. Everyday offers a new insight. Previous experience includes 4 years in the BBC Arabic Service newsroom, heading up a pan-BBC World Service change management programme, and working in a diverse range of industries from financial derivatives trading, petroleum engineering and spring manufacturing.

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