Freelance Project Management
In just about every team meeting, along with the creatives, the developers and the client, there is usually someone with the title: project manager. For the uninitiated this could range from the multiple-pierced, student office temp to a Prada-clad scare-meister who is rumoured to sleep upside down in a coffin. For those of us who are in the know (ie: have been making tea and booking cabs for a while), project managers are generally the ones who get it all delivered in the end.
But what do Project Managers do?
Have you ever surfed those job ad listings for freelance project managers wondering if you qualify or what those ‘key requirements’ actually mean? Below are some expansions on those must-have items:
Before you start: PM = Project Manager. In some circles, it also stands for Prime Minister or Pre-menstrual tension – go figure.
Organisational skills: A PM is supposed to essentially be more organised than the people you work with. The range can extend from: uses the trash can as a filing system to having every email/phone message ever received from anyone including their mother, printed, time-stamped and filed accordingly. First impressions count so getting to the interview on the correct date is a good start. Knowing why you are there is also a bonus.
Technical skills: Usually a requirement for the digital arena. However, it should be noted that in some organisations, being able to tie your own shoelaces to get to work is considered a technical skill.
Ability to deal with clients at all levels: Being able to figure that anyone with a job-title with the word: ‘senior’, at Microsoft will probably have a little more financial significance than the ‘Director of Product Placement’ at Narelle’s Patisserie, (headcount 2).
Good communication skills: The sense to let people know what they really need to know – ie: ensuring that the developer doesn’t know what the HTMLer is earning, the database programmer never finds out that the IT Director has less than half his qualifications and no-one under any circumstances finds out what outrageous salary and bonus package the Creative Director got in his last round of negotiations.
Team management skills: The ability to manage nuclear fallout after the developer has gone postal following another round of last minute functionality changes, the copywriter has refused to cut his 25,000 word masterpiece to a mincing 200 just to fit on a poxy webpage and the creative lead is missing in action – last seen under the table at Spearmint Rhino 2 nights ago.
Good negotiation and client handling skills: The ability to straight-facedly place your company’s largest invoice ever submitted in front of the client after they had to help you back into your underpants in front of the CEO’s wife at a client function the night before.
Proficiency with PM methodologies/MS Project a plus: These are often asked for as ‘tick list’ items meaning that a memo has just gone out from HR. Given that many PMs are generally not trusted by the rest of their team to have anything more dangerous than an etch-a-sketch, crayons and plastic scissors on their desks it’s hard to tell if anyone has ever been required to pull out their expertise on these.
A good sense of humour: Either that or very strong prescription drugs!