Keeping Track in a Hyper-Paced World

When Bryan Bradley became senior vice president of technology services, one of his primary goals was to bring a formal software development methodology to imc²’s technology practices. Project management is an important part of that methodology because it gives the agency a consistent way to keep track of its resources, accurately estimate project budgets and deliver exceptional work to clients on time and on budget.

The marketing world has always been fast-paced. However, interactive marketing is a hyper-paced industry, and our clients expect both rapid response and quality work. Established in 1995 by Doug Levy, imc came of age alongside the interactive marketing industry. As we’ve grown and matured over the years, we have continuously focused on ensuring that we provide the best strategy and quality creative services for our clients.

When I stepped into the role of senior vice president of technology services, one of my primary objectives was to bring a formal software development methodology to our technology practices. Formalizing our processes and methodology would enable us to scale and keep pace with our own success. An important part of that methodology is the project management discipline, which gives us a consistent way to keep track of our resources, accurately estimate project budgets and deliver exceptional client work—work that’s on time and on budget.

As imc grew, we needed to implement more robust systems to service our clients. In 2006, we began to explore ways to establish an integrated set of processes and systems to support every aspect of our work.

As part of our evolution in business process innovation, we established our program management office and tapped Erica Robertson to lead the department. Our PMO defined six business objectives to set up a process and technology infrastructure that would align with our company’s overall goals:

• Provide better visibility of staff resources and revenue.

• Permit a real-time view into our resources’ workloads.

• Allow multiple views for our staffing team to see different types of users, allowing for dashboard reporting for various groups.

• Offer insight into project “actuals” on a granular level.

• Integrate with our financial systems.

• Provide appropriate flexibility and scalability.

Supporting Our Clients’ Needs

Because our clients have varying needs, we must implement systems and processes that are extremely flexible. For some clients, we manage online projects in conjunction with large offline (print, television and radio) campaigns. We might launch a digital campaign for a client while a partner agency is launching an offline campaign. When a partner agency is involved, it’s especially critical that we plan, collaborate and communicate effectively with our partners, customers and internal teams.

We also needed greater visibility into all the work imc does each day. Because of the rapid pace of our work and the need to quickly shift staff resources from one project to another, we sought a real-time reporting and resource management solution. For example, if the Food and Drug Administration delays the release of a pharmaceutical product launch, then we must be able to shift and redirect that team to work on another project.

In addition, we have a number of partnerships and alliances to provide the best solutions for our clients’ needs, whether that is through leveraging alliance technologies (such as Microsoft or ATG), employing technologies we have developed ourselves, or forging partnerships to boost our delivery capability and solidify our internal infrastructure.

Our technology world is interdependent, so we must recognize and adopt best-of-breed solutions and identify how they can help us. It’s also important to know the areas in which we may have to do more work internally to integrate these solutions.