How project management works at Roman.ua
You often ask us how things work at our company. For instance, “How will the project go? How do you set tasks? How do you report?”.
In this article, we are going to elaborate on what our comprehensive project management is about, and how we build processes in order to achieve the best results for our Clients.
At the first stage, the Client completes a brief in Google Docs.
We welcome detailed and digitized briefs, as they help us see the task clearly, discuss expectations from cooperation in advance, and turn the Client’s wishes into tangible figures and metrics.
Later on, the brief becomes the basis to start working on the project. If we match, we begin our work together.
Creating a project in Worksection
We don’t welcome project management done in chats.
You have probably faced a situation where an important message is lost in the thread, and becomes outdated by the time someone remembers about it. This is the way all channels with disorganized communication work.
Due to such attempts to run project management in chats, companies delay launch dates,
Fail to conduct regular optimizations and track the quality of their performance. While chats are good for a quick exchange, they cannot be used to build a system and organise project management, no matter how much you want to make everyone’s life easier.
We have chosen Worksection as an online service for running projects. Not only do we create tasks and assign the responsible employees, but we also use the full functionality of this platform.
At the beginning, we use a project template — in English, Ukrainian or Russian, depending on the Client — where we write everything including the minor tasks, which will take a couple of minutes, but which need to be done.
In-house marketers often forget about minor tasks, but such small things influence the project outcomes, and the longer they take, the bigger difference it makes.
Details in performance quality matter in online marketing. Those who skip, don’t push hard enough, don’t give a fuck, performs in a that-will-work-too mode, eventually, will earn less. For example, regular optimization every two and three weeks will lead to different results.
We keep everything in apple-pie order and control the execution using checklists and other tools. In this way, we almost nullify the chaos where it can be harmful, but leave room for creativity where it helps the project.
Having created the project, the manager builds down its structure using “hub” tasks and subtasks and priorities for the hub ones.
For each task, the project manager assigns the responsible employee, sets the deadline, and provides a detailed description with links to folders and documents which may be necessary to perform the task.
For instance, if a monthly report has to be done, the manager provides links to the previous reports. Thus, if a new participant joins the project, they can find and reread such reports, and get up-to-date.
We use statuses and labels of different colors to visually differentiate tasks. Thus, when the Client opens the project, they can easily spot the tasks with red labels saying “All on the Client”, which means that to work further we need information from them.
As for us, statuses and labels help us see how the demand for different services grows and understand how project tasks can be optimized. Regarding the employees assigned to several roles, we track how they move from the role of an executor to the role of a manager based on hours they spent on tasks with different tags, rather than our intuition.
We use a backlog for tasks which we would like to do, but cannot plan for the next two months. For instance, when an email marketing module is not ready yet, but there is an idea and a brief for the letter, or when we need to make edits on the website, but do not have the resources at the moment.
Our concern for the security and confidentiality of the Client’s data is not limited to signing a non-disclosure agreement with the Client, employees and contractors.
As geeks and nerds, we take security more seriously than most companies on the market.
For example, we give access to Clients’ accounts either to work emails @roman.ua, or using Zoho Vault. In the second case, employees log into the Client’s account using the Google Chrome extension, but they do not see the password itself. The password is known only to Olga and Roman or the employee who created the account.
We use complex passwords and two-factor authentication (permanent and one-time password) to minimize the risk of account hacking.
After the employee leaves the agency, we restrict all accesses systematically according to the checklist, remove them from chats with the Client, and refuse access to any additional systems.
Creating a project folder in Google Drive
All project documents are stored on Roman.ua corporate accounts in Google Drive.
Documents are named in a standardized manner. This makes it easy for employees to find the project documents they need.
Unlike non-system players, if we end cooperation with an employee, then when we disconnect them from the corporate mail, we pick up and save all their documents. For the Client, this means that if they need, for example, a TOR for the advertising banners design created six months ago, they will have it, like any other document, regardless of the date and the employee who created it.
If the document needs to be shown to external contractors, we issue commenting access to the list of emails. We issue access to other people after agreeing it with the Client.
Setting up communication channels
General chats in Telegram, Slack or Skype to resolve operational issues with the Client and their contractors.
In large and complex projects, we break chats by direction. For example, for YouTube we have one chat, for PPC advertising — another one.
All chats are also named in a standardized manner: Project name <> Roman.ua: project direction.
We add the executors, the project manager, and the team from the Client’s side to the chat.
For example, if the number of active products in the Merchant Center has dropped sharply, the PPC specialist will inquire in the chat whether any changes have been made to the product feed. For their part, the Client can, for example, ask to stop promotional activities for some promotion, because the stock has run out of goods or the conditions of the promotion have changed.
The Client can also clarify the details of an advertising campaign in the chat. For example, how the budget is formed or what types of advertisements are used.
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Tracking project results
Many owners of PPC agencies want to get out of the operational management, but we actually have not seen them involved in it, which reminds the meme.
In our team, execution of tasks is monitored by the project managers and agency partners — Roman and Olga.
We do not dream of solemnly laying down the operational management, and, therefore, we do not run into situations where an employee has spent a number of hours doing a task, and only then everyone notices that things should have been done differently. We secure ourselves not only by expertise and checklists, but also by competent management and ongoing monitoring.
Every morning we hold short meetings (Daily Scrum Meetings) 10-20 minutes long, where employees talk about what they did yesterday and are planning to do today, as well as if there are serious difficulties. Thus, project managers and agency partners are always aware of what is going on in the project.
Also, if an employee has spent a significant amount of time on a task, but has not completed it yet, they write a comment to the task in the Worksection about the intermediate result and attach a corresponding link.
The project manager receives a notification with a comment by email, checks what has been done and, if necessary, makes changes. The Client, for their part, sees the dynamics of the project and can give feedback.
Our reports are the epitome of nerdiness in the best sense of the word. We don’t write reports for show and we don’t record them as voice messages like some people do.
Our reports are structured texts with facts, analysis and clear, prioritized recommendations. In general, we distinguish three types of reports:
Regular optimization and summarizing
It is conducted by a PPC specialist every 7-14 days to monitor the project. The specialist looks at changes in the main indicators of an advertising campaign: cost per conversion, costs, CPC, and others.
All regular optimizations are done according to the checklist mentioned in the task. We also use checklists for other recurrent and large tasks. For example, for regular email campaigns. Thus, a new employee and their manager insure themselves against mistakes, and the experienced ones have the opportunity to double-check themselves.
Monthly reports in Google Docs
In the reports, we describe in as much detail as possible:
- what was done during the period
- what results were achieved and the dynamics with the previous period
- what the suggestions are for improvement
We always provide facts: numbers, graphs, screenshots, tables and links to data in accounts. We pay attention to peak growth and / or decline, find and indicate the cause of the current situation, and offer options to improve the advertising campaign.
In tables, we pay attention to readability and focus on the main points. For example, we highlight cells with a positive change in green, cells with a negative change — in red, and neutral cells — in yellow or leave them without color.
Reports in Google Data Studio
They help the Client see all expenditure and income indicators in a convenient and structured form: income, expense, profit, payback. In the same way as with tables in reports, we highlight the largest expenses and incomes.
Meetings and teleconferencing
We hold meetings in the office in Kyiv or call Zoom.us to regularly discuss project indicators.
We control and optimize the project in the short, medium and long term.
Weekly Account Meeting
This meeting is conducted weekly by agency partners, Olga and Roman Rybalchenko, together with project managers.
The Weekly Account Meeting discusses the following issues:
- things done last week
- difficulties in the project
- reasons for overdue tasks (if any)
- feedback on the work of project executors
- feedback from the Client
- suggestions for improving performance.
Phone calls with Clients
Phone calls are made once every two weeks or once a month.
We discuss operational issues: what has been done, what we are planning to do, which tasks require a later deadline, who needs to be pushed, where things got stuck on the Client, which issues need to be discussed and in which communication channels.
From operational issues, we move on to project figures: ROI, sales, growth, decline, dynamics of indicators.
Once a month, an overview of the results of the month and plans for the next period are added to these questions.
For complex and large projects, we hold strategic sessions with the Client once a year. At such sessions, we evaluate the year in retrospect and discuss strategic plans and such issues as:
- which resources we are lacking in
- how demand for products/services is growing
- whether it is necessary to transform the business model (if so, how)
- which activities we are planning for the next year
- what the competitors are doing
- which trusted contractors can we recommend
- what else can we offer to the Client
- how to grow multiple times faster or how to maintain growth rates
- what else the Client needs to do to improve project performance: in terms of our tools and, in general, in the business
In a nutshell, our project management falls into 9 rules.
We have described most of our processes, but our management is constantly evolving. By the time you read this post, we are very likely to be ahead of the curve.
This post was last updated on 08-26-2021.