Agency Traffic Or Project Management: Is There A Difference?

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published May 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Project Management as a discipline has been growing in the creative space. At Function Point, we have made it our mission to help our clients manage their jobs and projects to be as profitable as possible.

Whether your company is a traditional advertising agency, a digital agency, or a design firm, the importance of managing your work cannot be understated. It is difficult to be profitable with your creative work if your agency doesn’t place enough importance on scheduling, scope management and capacity planning.

I recently attended the Adept Creative Project Management Workshop in San Francisco and wanted to share some brief thoughts about their PM approach (theory) and relate them to two high level questions that are asked often when the Function Point team is consulting on workflow development:

What is the difference between a Traffic Manager and a Project Manager?

Traffic Manager

  • Generally becomes involved in a project once it is in production.
  • Is usually considered to be more of an entry level position ensuring that tasks are assigned and completed.

Project Manager

  • Integrated in the end-to-end process including planning, estimating and has a vested interest in the successful (profitable) completion of the project.
  • Should work for all departments with an overall goal of protecting the financial health of your company, delivery of the project to your client and sanity of your staff.
  • The role of PM should not be an entry level role.
  • You can have entry level PMs but there needs to be a career path within project management. It is such an important role that agencies cannot afford to have successful PMs always move to other roles (such as an Account Manager) for career advancement.

Does My Agency Need a Traffic Manager, a Project Manager or Both?

  • The Adept model suggests that “Project Manager” should be a job description in all agencies even if the agency is too small for this to be a full time position.
  • The role of PM will help you bring balance to your work and enhanced profitability to your agency.
  • In my opinion having a Traffic Manager will help bring order to your workflow and task management, but having a Project Manager will provide you with a better ROI.

What are your thoughts?

Does your agency have a Creative Traffic Manager, a Project Manager or both? Do you agree that there is a difference between a Traffic Manager and Project Manager in the creative industry? Would having a Project Manager who is involved from the outset of a project help you better schedule your tasks and staff and build better proposals and estimates?

Function Point’s online project management software is designed to address the unique needs and operation of a creative ad agency. We have designed our system with each and every staff role in mind in an effort to make everyone’s day-to-day life a little less stressful.

Project and Traffic Managers alike can enjoy an all-in-one system with time tracking, productivity reporting, integrated email and scheduling, and much more. To learn more about how FP can improve productivity and efficiency at your agency, be sure to schedule a personalized demo with one of our experts.

Please post your comments and join our LinkedIn group “The Business of Creative” to discuss your ideas and questions with hundreds of other agencies.

This article was contributed by Tate Lillies, a former Function Point employee.