Project Manager Role & Expectations

 

Overview of Page Resources

 

Introduction

A training session from 8/12/2020 covering core content on this page:

 

What is the role of a TSL Project Manager?

A TSL project manager:

  • Creates and manages a project plan that fulfills our Statement of Work with the customer, and stays within budget that the customer agreed upon, and is within acceptable range of profitability for TSL.
  • Manages customer expectations from beginning to end, about what TSL will deliver each step of the project and when.
  • Maintains project plans in Clarizen according to documented processes and expectations.
  • Follows established processes and the guidance of SMEs to ensure we deliver high quality and timely work, and are efficient with our time.
  • Establishes a professional relationship of trust with customers.
  • Leads a project team through every customer and internal touchpoint, always driving forward progress and seeking answers/solutions to do so.
  • Is the trusted liaison between our customer(s) and delivery/production teams.

 

How is a Project Manager's success measured?

  • Revenue Earned Value: Each manager is given a quarterly individual Revenue Earned Value goal that they are responsible for meeting. This goal is divided into monthly averages, and Revenue EV is reported weekly to track progress. Revenue EV goals for upcoming quarters may change as the fiscal year progresses to ensure the delivery group meets overall goals.
  • Campaign Profitability: Management of costs on projects at or above defined minimums (hours/labor cost + pass through non-labor costs).
  • Qualitative feedback from internal team members about adherence to the role requirements, following operational and production processes.
  • Qualitative feedback from customers (whether directly provided to the PM/team on the account, or shared with supervisor), and trends with customer retention and renewals.

 

Communication

Project managers must be clear, concise, and confident in written and verbal methods of communication, both internally and with customers.

  • Be Clear - Be specific in what you are saying or asking, to ensure all parties know what needs to be done to complete the task at hand. If the customer does not quote a specific deadline or timeline for a request or action item, the manager must ask follow up questions to clarify the need.
  • Be Concise - Focus the words you use to summarize the most critical context, status, action items, next steps, and owners.
  • Be Confident
    • Confidence in communication comes from having comprehension of your client's industry and go-to-market message, and a full understanding of your project and scope of support areas, our processes, your project plans and status, and being prepared for your meetings.
    • Prepare for calls by summarizing what you need to provide to the customer, and what you need to obtain from them in order to move the project forward.
    • There are times when you may be asked a technical question you are unsure of the answer to. In those cases you can be confident that we have a Subject Matter Expert (SME) on the team who can provide an answer. It's appropriate to reply: "I'm not certain about the answer to that, but I'll bring your question to my team of Subject Matter Experts and will follow up with an update."

Our customers need to hear from us in the following ways to assure them that their project is progressing forward and they are receiving great service. If a customer does not hear from a manager, they will be quick to assume their project is not progressing.

  • Be Proactive: Communicate specific project timelines with calendar dates, highlight potential roadblocks in progress toward deadlines, or unforeseen delays from either party regularly so the customer always knows the latest status of our work. Our customer should never feel the need to reach out and ask for a status update. They should know where their project with TSL stands every week.
  • Be Timely in Responses: Reply to customer emails/calls within 12 hours. At minimum, we expect an initial reply to state, "I received your email/call and will get back to you by [timeframe]. The reply does not necessarily need to contain the final answer or a deliverable being asked about, but it does need to acknowledge the customer's request. Follow through on those commitments by setting Outlook reminders or noting the deadline on your to-do list.


Text Messaging with Customers

  • Avoid text messaging with customers otherwise specifically discussed with the customer for a short-term, defined timeframe (day or few when they may be traveling or at an event where they are not actively checking email) when they request that you text them to alert them to check email for a specific project status update or provide an approval on something time-sensitive.
  • Why? Challenging situations can arise:
    • Text messages do not facilitate opportunities to formally bring in other project stakeholders (other customers or internal team members) who need to be aware of information, questions, timelines, etc. This creates more work for the PM to recap discussions via email to continue conversations internally.
    • It is difficult to refer back to text message history about commitments or timelines, especially in the event that we need to provide proof of that key information being provided.
    • Text messages to your personal phone also weakens an important boundary of work/life balance we want the team to have. There is a tendency to send texts outside business hours, and even more pressure to respond immediately with complete information.
  • If a customer sends a text message, particularly if it is before or after business hours, it is appropriate to acknowledge their message briefly with intent to redirect the conversation to email.
    • Hi X, I will [find out that information for you / send this information / check with my team] and email you back by [X date and time].

 

Conference Call Best Practices

Resources:

  • Customer-Facing Call Tip sheet here
  • PowerPoint slides reviewed in below video here
  • Bulleted guidelines below
  • Conference Call Best Practices training video below (Coordination/Planning guidelines, technical audio and video settings and considerations)

 

  • Schedule checkpoint calls with each customer every other week at minimum. Some campaigns will require weekly checkpoint calls especially in kickoff stages to gain momentum. For digital campaigns, one call per month should be designated as the progress reporting review, where a prepared report will be discussed during the call.
  • A meeting agenda should always be sent via email to call invitees. It should be sent at least one hour prior to the scheduled call time, but within 24 hours.
  • Take calls from a quiet environment. Distracting background noise and/or low quality audio is unprofessional. As much as possible, extend this to internal calls as well.
  • During calls:
    • If you or SMEs are remarking on a customer's marketing efforts, be cognizant of the effort and investment they put into them. Provide productive and constructive feedback with a professional and respectful tone.
    • Ensure that you and SMEs take time to pause and check if the customer has any questions, especially when kicking off a tactic or discussing technical subjects. Once you ensure the customer has comprehension, move forward with the discussion.
  • A meeting recap should always be sent via email to call invitees. It should be sent within one business day following a call. It should include clear next steps and owners (TSL or customer).
  • Cancellations - Managers should make a habit of checking their schedule for the day ahead and week ahead. If there is a scheduled checkpoint call that is not required (all agenda items taken care of via phone or email between checkpoints or ad hoc calls, or cancelled at request of the customer), send the calendar invite cancellation and provide a detailed explanation. NEVER cancel a customer call within an hour of the meeting, even if there are no updates. Use the time to ask questions, see if they need additional support, or have questions of their own.

 

Quality Assurance

A manager is one of our important quality tollgates because they have captured customer requests, relayed them to the production/delivery team, and can identify if the work meets expectations.

  • Proofread: Build time in your production schedules to have presentations, reports, and marketing content put through QA by TSL's proofreader. Lead Reports will be proofed by TSL's lead QA owner.
  • Review work:
    • To avoid confusion, ensure correct and clean versions of deliverables are being sent to the customer.
    • Take a moment to open and preview every file or URL provided by the team, before sending in an email or opening for a screenshare meeting. 
    • Ask yourself, "Is this what I was expecting to receive to provide the customer? Does this meet the requirements of the project request?"
  • Monitor overall performance:
    • Have an understanding of campaign goals and which metrics will determine progress/performance (examples: hours per lead rates, digital conversion costs), and where the metrics stand throughout the lifecycle of the campaign.
    • Understand ways to improve performance, coordinating with SMEs and production to implement those plans. 

 

Success with Checkpoint Calls and Managing Customer Feedback

  • Guidance for organization and preparation to hold successful internal and customer checkpoint meetings
  • How to request customer feedback, and respond to and troubleshoot customer feedback (especially in regards to digital/creative work)

 

 

Operations Action Items

The following is an outline of the recurring tasks that a project manager is responsible to complete by a certain deadline to maintain internal operational systems. There are numerous other responsibilities that are related to the timing and lifecycle of each campaign that will be staggered throughout work days.

  •