Assigns resources.

Validates estimates.

Fine-tunes scopes.

Creates timelines.

Runs burn reports.

Tracks approvals.

Coordinates vendors.

“QAs” and troubleshoots.

Reconciles budgets and billing.

The job description for agency project managers goes on and on. Saying they wear multiple hats is an understatement. These are the people behind the scenes, planning, organizing and prioritizing resources and tasks based on client requests. As each project progresses, they take the lead in controlling costs, shifting timelines as needed, minimizing risk and maximizing efficiencies.

But building the logistical guardrails that keep projects on course is just the first hat in a very tall stack. The roles of agency project managers often also involve scoping, vendor management, quality assurance (QA), reconciliation, billing and postmortems. They might even serve as conduits between creative and account teams, advocating for and protecting the integrity of creative teams’ ideas while simultaneously helping account teams manage client expectations. By actively maintaining alignment between all parties, they reduce friction, remove roadblocks and ensure success.

The best project managers possess a few specific attributes. An almost obsessive attention to detail. Patience and foresight despite the inevitable twists and turns of projects. Empathy for the wide range of characters that walk the halls of agencies, from the art director who wants to “craft beautiful objects” to the social media planner who needs the Facebook ads yesterday. It’s a rare combination to say the least.

The most successful agencies don’t only deliver great work to clients. They deliver it on time and on budget. Project managers, drawing on past experiences, leveraging proven processes and collaborating across multiple departments, are integral to the process. Walt Disney might have summed it best when he said, “The P in PM is as much about ‘people’ management as it is about ‘project’ management.”