The second BIMA DPM session took place on 14 May 2019, hosted by BIMA member, Screenmedia and led by their Director of Production, Lynn Banks.
Senior DPM professionals from the following organisations attended: ACCA Global; After Digital; AmazeRealise; Beattie Communications; Brand Calibre; CelloSignal; CreateFuture; Clydewire; Equator; Frame; Neu; Pim-Pam; Wireframe Immersive.
To open we went around the table asking participants what they were hoping to discuss in the session, the following issues were raised:
- Designing a process without too much process
- Streamlining processes
- Creating systems that work across the board
- Driving value through the business
- Scaling up
Lynn led with reviewing the definition vs the reality of methodology.
Methodology definition: A methodology is a system of practices, techniques, procedures and rules used by those who work in a discipline. Project Management Institute
Methodology in reality: A methodology is a combination of the best practice principles, processes, standards and frameworks we mash together to get projects done.
METHODOLOGIES: This led to animated debate over working with a cocktail of methodologies, delving into the following points:
- Facilitating a team working in different methodologies can be difficult
- Educating the client in various methodologies is key. Agile does not = faster
- Working with a budget that is not fixed. Discussing not fixing a budget until a full discovery process is completed was mooted
- Requirement gathering: often raised is the issue of what is the requirement vs the ask? Will the ask deliver the need (back to discovery process)
- Agile: this is a way of working. Not what you do but how you do it. It works as a partnership. Often upfront planning is carried out before moving to an agile process.
Some of the challenges specific to an agile approach (and the understanding of what an agile approach actually is) were then raised:
- Trust is key. Know your client well.
- Should you design sprints in such a way that each one delivers something? The analogy of baking cupcakes vs building the big fancy cake deliverable at the end was used here.
- Being clear that post project the agile approach does not go beyond launch but into a new agreement: plan & manage project vs business as usual vs retainer.
This led to a brief discussion over whether post launch, management of the client requirement is a dedicated service team or remains with the project team. Challenges and benefits of both were discussed.
TENDER: Of course, time and again the challenge at the outset of creative and digital projects is winning the work through a tender process which does not allow for agile methodologies and where delivering creative ideas in an industry with rigid processes can be highly challenging. Two points raised were:
- You need have an exploration phase baked into the budget
- You need to manage your client’s approach to risk
And how do all these methodologies impact your teams?
- Each team member needs ownership
- The PM is the enabler in the team not the governor and controller
- Doing team retrospectives is important (review what you have achieved – this cam up in CS too)
- This led to the challenge of teams imbedded with the client. What is the right time scale for this? Can tech help to achieve co-location? Get the client to come to you.
THE DPM: All this ultimately led to what is the role of the Digital Project Manager and what does this person look like?
- They are project manager to product maker
- They manage scope creep and enhancements
- They must have overriding knowledge of the project
- They manage change and risk and expectations (of the teams and the client)
- They are the driver
- A T shaped person is generally considered ideal for the role with empathy high on the character attributes list.
TOOLS: The final discussion point was sharing which tools were considered helpful in DPM:
Zoom – https://www.zoom.us/ it works well even if the client has high security firewalls
Slack – https://slack.com/intl/en-gb/ is it just noise? Are the multiple channels too many to manage (and people creating more sub channels)
Loom – https://www.loom.com/ great for doing recorded information and guidelines rather than a long written document (you can also do this in Zoom)
Microsoft Teams - https://products.office.com/en-us/microsoft-teams/group-chat-software
Marvel - https://marvelapp.com
Invision - https://www.invisionapp.com/
Clubhouse - https://clubhouse.io/
Microsoft Dev Ops - https://azure.microsoft.com
Further sessions to be delivered by the BIMA DPM Community:
Bringing more junior team members into the group.
Further reading (with relation to the imbedded teams discussion): BIMA CSD Community - Innovative Collaboration with Clients
About Lynn Banks
With over 13 years’ experience in creative, digital and innovation agencies, Lynn has directed and managed a wide range of highly complex projects, and has mastered multiple methodologies to handle the rapid growth of diverse emerging technology markets.
Her natural flair for client service combined with her business-savvy mind and passion (some may say obsession?) for diligence and process has resulted in an exemplary record of successful project delivery.
Lynn has been pivotal in the impressive growth of Screenmedia over the last 8 years, and now leads a team of over 10 producers, project managers and business analysts as they successfully navigate the ever-changing landscape of project delivery.