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Creative Project Manager: Ultimate Career Guide

Updated: Sep 14, 2022


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Every new project poses a new set of challenges for a project manager. Creative project management includes creative projects such as design, video production, advertising, and brand marketing.


Project managers must also manage client expectations while overseeing creatives and completing a project within scope and budget. Here we look at managing creative projects as a creative project manager effectively.


What is Creative Project Management?


Ideation, wireframes, and delivery are all part of creative project management. The following characteristics define creative project management:


Results: Each project must deliver certain outcomes. An app design or marketing campaign results could be included here. The outcomes of a project are known as deliverables.


Tasks: The project's work is broken down into tasks by utilizing task management software. Team members are assigned tasks with deadlines that require them to deliver a draft or wireframe, make revisions, and send the final draft to the client.


Stakeholders: A stakeholder is a person or group with a stake in the project. Using the same platform, the team collaborates freely on projects, including internal and external stakeholders. Creative agencies may include their clients as well.


Progress: Regular meetings provide updates on everyone's progress. Clients and stakeholders can track the progress of a project visually through team updates. As a result, the creative project manager can also address resource allocation issues or other bottlenecks that could prevent meeting the deadline.


Delivery: Each project goes through a life cycle. Once the deliverables have been sent to the stakeholder or client, the team can move on to the project's next step.


There is so much more to creative project management than these points can cover. Understanding the creative project lifecycle requires understanding creative project manager responsibilities.


Creative Project Manager Job Description


What exactly does a creative project manager do?


Managing a creative project involves many different parties: stakeholders, clients, and company management. However, a creative project manager's defining relationship is their work with creatives.


There are unique challenges with managing designers, web designers, copywriters, content creators, UX designers, videographers, and other creatives.


The range of projects includes everything from creating copy and designing a website to producing advertisements and videos on a large scale. Naturally, creative project managers must foster an environment of inspiration while honoring the creative process and completing projects on schedule.


Responsibilities of a creative project manager include:


Organizing, Planning, and coordinating: Managing budgets, planning projects, and coordinating creative teams.


Communicating: sharing updates, handoffs, and feedback between the creative team and the client.


Tracking progress: Maintaining timelines, workloads, and teams to ensure progress is being made.


Leading clients through project planning: Creative project managers must communicate deliverables to clients regularly. The communication has to be clear and concise.


On-boarding: Introducing team members to the project management system. To do this, you need to create a profile for every team member and then train them on how to work on the project.


Creative project managers should be idealistic, motivational, and highly communicative. Your team will benefit from the skillsets above. Keeping your team motivated is crucial to turning an abstract idea into reality despite the long process and setbacks. In order to provide updates and drive strategy, you must also be able to communicate at a high level and in-depth.


What are Creative Project Manager Skills?


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Creative project management skills include leading a team that develops websites, advertisements, and video content. Skills like innovative thinking, writing expertise, and visual design abilities are essential for successful creative project managers. In addition to their imagination, creative project managers have leadership and administrative skills.


Creative project managers may use different skills based on the size of their team and the type of projects they undertake. Usually, a small team leader will spend more time writing and designing than the leader of a large department who will focus on organization and time management. Likewise, some projects require more visual design, while others require written work.


Creative Project Manager Skills in the Workplace


Project managers can use their creative skills in the following ways:


  • Organize your time and create project plans. Specific deadlines may require drafts and finished materials for each project stage.

  • Use your communication skills to lead a team of graphic designers, writers, and coders. A team's goal may be discussed individually or as a whole.

  • Use your visual design and writing skills to evaluate collateral. You might comment on tone, word choice, and visual appeal when the designers and copywriters on your team finish their project parts.


Creative Project Manager Salary and Job Outlook


Generally, project managers are in high demand, both creative and non-creative. Creative project managers are expected to witness a 10% job growth over the next decade. There is a 33% growth expected for project managers.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a creative project manager's salary in the US ranges from $47,320 to $172,900, with a median salary of $89,760. Creative Project Managers earn an average of $85,800, while the top earners make $172,900.


Creative Project Manager vs. Technical Project Manager


Generally, creative project management focuses on the conceptual side of an organization. As you recognize client needs and incorporate them into your product's vision, you will likely be surrounded by product managers and designers. The team will include designers, marketers, videographers, or any other person involved in serving client needs.


In contrast, Technical Project Managers are more concerned with details, whether in a development context or an overall project management context. Your problem solving will be more about creatively managing the business plan and timelines than being truly creative, as you'll focus on execution.


Why do Organizations and Agencies Need Creative Project Managers?


Working for an agency or in-house as a creative project manager is possible. Despite similar responsibilities regardless of location, there are some key differences between the two regarding scope and focus.


In-house creative project managers have one client: the company. A narrow, specialized approach will be taken to tailor things specifically for a particular organization in this environment. Doing so will better understand the brand, the primary audience, and the organization's goals.


At a creative agency, creative project managers see a wide range of clients and objectives. Consequently, they may be unable to integrate themselves deeply into the clients' goals. They will, however, gain new information and best practices from being exposed to various projects.


Every creative agency needs a creative project manager. A project manager determines the creative framework, which includes a few key points:


  • Plan development: Understanding clients' requests, requirements and building the right team.

  • Establishing deliverables: Clarifying the end product to the team and when it needs to be delivered.

  • Assessing the project stakeholders: Understanding who the project impacts and who can provide guidance and input.

  • Organizing meetings and updates: Maintaining a regular cadence for sharing relevant information is essential. Creative project managers must ensure that people have enough information to move forward confidently with their tasks.

  • Keeping an eye on the timeline: Maintaining communication between the creatives and the client and ensuring that every party understands the deadlines.

  • Finalizing the project: Compiling all deliverables into a final project. Reviewing any additional changes or updates. Sharing client feedback with the team to facilitate improvement.

  • Launching the project: Publicize the project online or through other media.


A Creative Project Manager Can Optimize Workflow


A creative project management approach is great for increasing workforce efficiency.


Creative project managers usually appreciate their team members' eccentricities. Having someone support and guide you through your work is extremely beneficial for creatives.


Creatives may not mind and may even enjoy being managed to some extent if they know it helps them produce their best work. Therefore, if you can unlock the creativity and productivity of your creative team members by adapting to how they work and bolstering them where needed, you'll find yourself in a very rewarding position that is highly valued.


How to Be a Successful Creative Project Manager


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A creative project manager cultivates a creative environment


A creative team needs openness and transparency, especially when they are juggling multiple tasks at once. The creative project manager must keep all team members informed at all times. Goals, timelines, milestones, and KPIs must be transparent.


The team also needs a collaborative space where they can speak and collaborate. You can connect and collaborate with your entire team from a centralized hub.


Directing team members without micromanagement


Time and budget constraints can make projects stressful. The project manager must respect and trust their creatives without micromanaging them. Keeping a close eye on their every move can also dampen their morale and reduce their productivity. Planning, setting goals, and building a clear project framework that helps the team stay on track are more important than tactical details.


Creative project managers should reward teamwork


The creative community is full of people who love to be told they're doing a great job. Positive reinforcement is necessary for creative project managers to keep their teams motivated. The team deserves a pat on the back when they reach important milestones or timelines!


Rotating through various projects is a great strategy for creatives that work together frequently. By delivering new assets, every team member learns how to work together. Perspective is everything!


Creative Project Management Points to Consider


As with any other project, creative projects succeed based on how well the team delivers on its planned tasks and deliverables. It is best to achieve these goals through a standard project management process.


To ensure things run smoothly, there are some special considerations you should take into account in creative projects. Here are some key points to consider.


Measuring creative success


Each project deliverable must be evaluated against success criteria during the planning phase. These metrics after the fact will measure a project's success. It allows you to identify where you went wrong and what factors influenced the outcome in real life.


Creative teams can disagree on how to measure success. Clients usually determine the criteria for success. Clients define success when they commission a creative agency to create new images for ads.


Goals such as conversion rates or click rates could be performance-based. Goals might also revolve around meeting quarterly or monthly delivery requirements. Generally, clients need insights to ensure they're getting the value they paid for. To ensure everyone knows what is expected, document the project requirements within the contract or somewhere easily accessible.


Often, success comes from a combination of delivering and maintaining. The project health report lets teams track and manage projects based on task progress. Clients and project managers can provide an instant overview of a task's status.


Adding a budget update to this report is a good idea as well. Project managers can see how much of their budget is left with CEO-ME's profitability report, which combines billable time and logged hours.


Client approval needs to be accommodated


Creative projects are often subject to client approval. In the case of a graphic designer creating a poster, the creative project manager needs to take more steps than simply assigning the designer one task. Furthermore, they must outline the design and submit it to the client for approval.


Creative projects can benefit from project management platforms that provide streamlined approval processes. With CEO-ME, creative project managers can build task lists containing both executable and sign-off tasks.


In addition, comments within each task card can be used by the agency and client to communicate and share feedback with the designer. In CEO-ME, you can add clients as collaborators, and these actions can be performed for FREE:

  • Add updates

  • View estimated times

All it takes is a couple of clicks for the creative project manager to give the client more access to the project board.


Creative Project Management Tips


Below are a few tips for managing a creative team and being a great creative project manager yourself:


  • To better understand your team, you need to know them as individuals. It will be very helpful in motivating them to meet a deadline.

  • Learn what makes your team members strong and what makes them weak. If you consolidate your ad designer's requirements and assets in advance, you may find they work better. Conversely, you might have a teammate who disappears, only to return minutes before the deadline with a remarkable deliverable.

  • Make sure your expectations are clear from the start. By knowing what's expected, creatives will also know where there is some leeway. To get the most from creatives, you need to guide them toward the deadline and solution without forcing them to do anything.

  • Recognize good work. Creatives need to receive external validation since many are intrinsically motivated.


Tools for Creative Project Managers


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Project management software for creatives can be a blessing! When the right software is used, all team members can collaborate seamlessly regardless of how flexible the project is. CEO-ME helps creative project managers smoothly navigate their entire workflow. It's easy to use, so creatives will be able to collaborate on documents and track deadlines. Furthermore, CEO-ME has a team communication feature that assists in brainstorming and keeping track of all discussions.


The benefits of using project management software for creative project management


Optimized project management can be achieved with the right project management platform. CEO-ME supports flexibility through various features, such as:


Teamwork instead of individual work: CEO-ME encourages creative problem-solving. In addition, micromanagement will be reduced, stifling most project management for creative teams.

Workload views: You can easily see each member's availability and assign tasks based on availability.

Customization: You can create workflows that are unique to your team.


In terms of project management, every creative team has its own needs. Your project management platform should provide you with as much flexibility as possible. Flexibility isn't everything, though.


Frequently Asked Questions


What Does Creative Project Management Mean?

As the name implies, it is a project management method within the creative industry, which means you implement project management for creative teams instead of software developers, construction teams, and engineers.


What Does a Creative Project Manager Do?

A creative project manager plans and organizes a project's budget, timeline, the scope of work, and more. They act as intermediaries between the creative team and the client to ensure that all project deadlines, workloads, and project objectives stay on track.


What are the 3 Crucial Keys to Creative Project Management?

How to Manage Creative Projects: 3 Crucial Points

  • A creative project manager must be empathic.

  • Communication skills are essential.

  • A proper creative project management tool is required.


Do Project Managers Need to Be Creative?

Creative project managers must have an intimate knowledge of the creative process and its nuances, as well as their team members' responsibilities and skills. Being creative is the best way to achieve this.


Conclusion


Creative teams can experience both joys and frustrations when managing projects. Creative professionals can produce amazing work with the right people and tools, and the creative project manager can also share in that success.


You need CEO-ME's project management software for creatives to steer your team forward if you are looking for tools to increase productivity. Experience the productivity, collaboration, and efficiency it can bring to your workflows with a free trial today.




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