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Project Management

Cats, dogs, deliverables, phases: how we herd them into a nice, “delivered on time” line.

We’ve written 31 blog posts about Project Management. View all topics »

  1. A Day in the Life of a Project Manager

    10/1/19

    by Saima Khan

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    Happy Cog’s Project Management Team is a well-oiled machine built upon a solid foundation. But with an ever-expanding clientele, growing cross-departmental teams, and external competition always chasing us, we needed to elevate the team that is the heart of the agency to the next level. Starting in Summer 2018, we developed a series of initiatives designed to help strengthen that foundation. We started with the basics – adding structure and levels to the team. We began to define our methodology as Hybrid – think of that as a mixture of waterfall and agile! We tried and tested our tools and found what works for us. We totally re-hauled the project life cycle by introducing phases, which in turn has made the management of our Greenfield and Retainer projects consistent and manageable. Something we are really proud of is our team camaraderie. Through weekly 1:1s, weekly department meetings, and those ever-popular monthly nights out, we are stronger and better than ever!

  2. How profitable is your staff?

    High fives all around—you’ve just launched another website. It’s truly cathartic when a team’s work fulfills the goals and objectives of a project. But as the project lead, if someone asked, “How much profit did your team generate?”, would you know the answer?

    Ideally, you would, because you’ve been keeping track of your costs over the past months. Evaluating project profitability as your project progresses enables you to monitor hours used and assess the efficiency of your project process so you can make strategic adjustments.

    If you haven’t been tracking costs incrementally, it’s not too late to make sense of the numbers. Determining project profitability in a digital agency, or really any service-based business, comes down to understanding your costs. Let’s break down one way to determine profitability for a project team, based on time-tracking data.

  3. Thoughtful Communication

    Comedian/actor Eddie Izzard makes an interesting point in his 2011 stand up Dress To Kill about communication. Through a (famously misunderstood) historic example of JFK’s 1963 address in Berlin, he illustrates how what you say, is often overshadowed by how you say it. The literal translation of what JFK said could have been interpreted in one of two ways. It could have been interpreted to mean he called himself a jelly doughnut. Because of the powerful way he delivered his message however, and the connection he had crafted with the Berlin crowd, they properly understood his meaning and responded enthusiastically when he declared himself a Berliner at heart.

  4. A Key Player on a Wicked Team

    3/10/16

    by Abby Fretz

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    Recently I attended a workshop run by the legendary designer and boundary-pushing problem solver, Bruce Mau. The workshop, hosted by PennPraxis and the Penn Institute for Urban Research (PennIUR), focused on a large scale (citywide) question, “How Do We Design a More Equitable Philadelphia?”

  5. A More Perfect Union

    8/17/15

    by Abby Fretz

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    At Happy Cog, we frequently check in with each other about our respective projects and how things are going. In both post-mortems meetings and weekly check-ins we evaluate not only on the time, budget, and resourcing health of a project, but on how the client is doing – on the experience of working with each client.

  6. Don’t Make Me Turn This Project Around…

    As I sit in my living room, laptop open and a Cognition column awaiting my two cent contribution, I listen to the sound of my three children shrieking upstairs. It’s bath time and they’ve been freed from the prisons of their clothing. They may or may not be careening into one another in a darkened second-floor hallway, laughing like maniacs. Parenting, like client services, is the management of the wackiest of variables, people.

  7. Celebrate The Process

    Client service is hard, frustrating, emotional, rewarding (sometimes), and challenging. When agency folk get together client stories are shared like a cathartic verbal exchange meant to keep us from attending the next client services anonymous meeting. I’m not condemning the practice, venting is good and there are some absurd stories worth sharing. But venting is a slippery slope. If the only thing coming out of your mouth is negative it may be time to consider an attitude adjustment – don’t condemn the process, celebrate it!

  8. The Detail-less Project Plan

    The meeting started 15 minutes ago and all I can think about is how humane cyanide might be at this point in time. If the look in our project team’s eyes are any indication, oh wait, I can’t see their eyes, because they’re rolling back into their heads as the project manager calls everyone’s attention to task 231, WBS ID 2.3.5!

  9. Next Level Project Management

    Recently I’ve been privy to several good discussions in the Digital Project Management community around ‘next level’ project management – going beyond tactical proficiency and honing one’s skills around crafting client-team relationships. Tactical proficiency alone does not build a strong project manager (PM)-client relationship.

  10. Little Wins: Monthly Invoicing

    When I joined Happy Cog there were whispers about the elusive holy grail called monthly billing. It was hardly a new concept, but it was new to us. In theory, monthly billing would keep a regimented stream of cash coming in the front doors, and steady cash flow is almost more important to running a business than overall revenue. But we’d never made the move. We structured contracts so that our deliverable-based invoicing occurred at reasonable intervals, but if deadlines shifted, our payments did too.

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