The Warm and Fuzzy Side of Project Management

November 19, 2013by Dave StawinskiInside Vignette


Every shop with a blog eventually gives their project management team the floor.

Usually they discuss how their processes are beautifully tailored to fit everyone involved in every aspect of all engagements, and use words like, “flexible” and, “at the end of the day” and maybe even, “low hanging fruit.” (Question: who wants to eat fruit off the ground?)

Here are a bunch of those (really, go see, there’s a lot of worthwhile thinking out there).

The anxiety you now feel about how complicated your project must be to require such a 400-level approach to even Defining what it is, let alone Designing it, Delivering it or Detoxing afterward means you read some of those posts and are now back here with us, where it is safe.  Yes. You were almost convinced that the only way your project can succeed is to adopt a process in which the name of each phase begins with the letter “D”.

Your agency’s process phases all begin with a lower-case “i-.”  i-Magine, i-Deate!

You are so screwed!

Okay, please stop hyperventilating and join us on the warm, wonderful slip n’ slide back into reality.

I am a project manager. It’s not my official title, but it’s what I do all day and I am a veteran with all the tools and experience we need to make your project hum. My team and I are here to help you.

The main thing about Project Management is that it is not supposed to be hard for you, the client (quite the contrary). If you are willing to cede some control to us, in return, we will make your big ugly project roll over for a nice tummy rub.

I’m not here to describe Vignette’s project delivery process (that will come later), because you came to our website to see if we can solve a problem for you. I do not really want you to stop thinking about collaborating with our team to generate fabulous work for any longer than maybe a bathroom break. Let your PM worry. You have work to do and enough stress already.

So now we’re comrades—let’s talk about that “control” thing I mentioned before.

Come on. You know what I’m talking about. Your parents said you were “Type A.”  Your Significant Other keeps walking right by the long-empty coffee mug on the coffee table like it isn’t even there. You did not get this far in life, or in your organization, by ignoring details. And so it might be hard for you to start ignoring details—some of them, anyway.

Here are some of the things that we will now mind for you, at least within the bounds of your project scope (your significant other is still your problem):

Schedule: We will tell you, and everyone else involved in the project, what to do and when.

Budget: Once we agree on one, we will manage it for you, and do everything we canto squeeze every drop of honest-to-goodness project value of it.

Quality: Okay, we know you won’t just “trust us” on this one, but what we will do is provide theprocess, the tools, and the environment to maximize the quality of our delivery.

Morale: As the Agency for Employees™, we really care about how our people, and your people—all people—feel about their work.  They must be engaged.  They must care. We want them to come at this like Doctors Without Borders.  They have a mission, and their mission is making beautiful solutions to your problems. So they have to be happy. Handle Schedule, Budget and Quality, then add compassion, respect and a sense of adventure, and this one tends to take care of itself.

Project managers have to do all these things. It’s like a compulsion with us.

Meantime, you can focus on the challenges that brought you to our door in the first place, and what comes next. We’re ready.

Dave Stawinski

With nearly 20 years of production experience working for leading digital agencies such as DNA Studios, BLITZ and Second Story, Dave has managed a large number of diverse projects and teams. Over the years he has managed important projects for clients like LOFT, Nike, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Honda, Anheuser-Busch, Sony Pictures, Disney, Microsoft, HP, the Library of Congress and others.