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Web Project Manager

1 Nov

Web Project Manager is a great blog on, surprise surprise, web project management. Run by Sam Barnes, the site has lots of useful resource links and great posts on managing projects for the web. One recent post really worth reading is Sam’s interview with Happy Cog PM Brett Harned. Go on do yourself a favour and dive in.

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The Producer as the Project Manager

6 Oct

Recently I was outlining the role of a Online Producer it was asked of me:

“Isn’t that just what a Project Manager does?”

It’s a common misconception thrown around frequently, that is the idea that a producer is just another name for a Project Manager. So the question begs, why bother with producers?

From my experience, the producer and the Project Manager roles are, in some aspects, not too dissimilar. Though one thing seems to constantly present itself in defining the differences between the two skill sets is the creative aspect of a producer.

In a great post on his Digital River Guides blog, Bryan Daniels sums this concept up nicely;

“…a Digital Producer may cross over into doing project management work but seldom, if ever, does a Project Manager cross over into driving and influencing strategic and creative work”.

The point of difference that Daniels is making, and backed up by Tony Zeoli’s post to the Web Producers list, revolves around the producer as a strategic creative thinker, a link between creative, technical and the client while the Project Manager focuses on things such as timelines, budgets and resource allocation.

To help visualise this difference a better, I have taken direction from Sarah Lantry’s post on econsultancy.com and further defined some explicit skills and tasks between the two jobs and the roles they play.

The Project Manager
Often tertiary educated in Logistics or Project Management with qualifications in various Project Management methodologies. Project Managers are fanatical organisers, look at a project as a whole including impacts outside of the digital sphere with an awareness of risk management, project progress and commercial requirements.

The Online Producer
Often tertiary educated, although in a varying range of areas, the producers primary focus is the digital landscape. Producers mostly come from creative or technical backgrounds with strong functional understanding of the development process. Producers help define a clients vision and develop a digital strategy. In many cases the producer is the common thread between development stages of project.

Who does what and when?

The scope of a project will often determine what role the producer and  the Project Manager will play in a project. For larger scale projects where there are impacts with systems or departments outside of the digital space, the producer may play second fiddle to the Project Manager, often acting as the online Subject Matter Expert (SME) for the project while co-ordinating the digital aspects for the Project Manager.

In smaller projects the producer may take on the end-to-end management of the project, taking on many project management tasks including budgeting, resource allocation, dealing with stakeholders an managing the production work flow.

So who you gonna call?

While the above scenarios and tasks are not hard and fast rules, hopefully they help to provide some insight into how the role of the producer fits into a project and the production cycle. And hopefully they will help you understand when best to call on a producers particular set of skills.

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